Florida's Urban Advantages - Worth a Second Look
Unique opportunities and incentives await growing companies in Florida's urban areas.
Choosing the right site for a business expansion or relocation is tough enough. But when the property under consideration is in an area showing signs of abandonment, economic decline or contamination, it can be tempting to simply move on.
In Florida, economic and environmental agencies are working hard to ensure that what some might see initially as “less-than-desirable” sites get a second look from developers, contractors and business owners. As a result, designated incentives in three categories — Urban Areas, Enterprise Zones and Brownfields — are generating a good bit of green for companies seeking to expand in or relocate to inner city neighborhoods.
Inner City Advantages
Florida offers increased incentive awards and lower wage qualification thresholds for businesses locating in many urban core/inner city areas that are experiencing conditions affecting the community’s economic viability and hampering the self-sufficiency of its residents.Protecting jobs
Film Technologies Incorporated (FTI) has been providing jobs for residents in St. Petersburg’s inner city since 1975. At its downtown manufacturing facility, FTI employs approximately 100 people, more than 60% of whom live within the perimeter where buses, bikes and foot power are the primary means of transportation. The company needed to expand, and moving out of the inner city to a more spacious “suburban” site would have left a void. So with a little help from the state of Florida, FTI decided instead to expand operations at its present location and retain much-needed jobs for the community.
CEO Don Wheeler acknowledges that incentives played a role in the firm’s decision to stay downtown. “We have some employees in our manufacturing area who have been with FTI from the very early years. When you look at an expansion, it’s much easier to look at options that will allow you to keep a trained and dedicated workforce. The incentives we received helped us retain employees who would not have been able to stay with us had we moved further out of our current geographic location.”
To increase capacity and keep pace with the growing demand for its window film products, FTI invested approximately $4 million in its existing 150,000-square-foot facility, including manufacturing line upgrades, improvements to in-house R&D equipment and maintenance infrastructure enhancements. In addition, the firm upgraded its product packaging to enhance brand awareness worldwide.