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November 26, 2014

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Florida's Rural Advantages - Good Business Sense

Florida's rural counties provide a skilled workforce and financial advantages.

Gary B. Shepherd | 10/1/2007

Targeted and Ready

Credits, Refunds, Training — Additional Resources
  • Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund
    Over a minimum of four years, pays at least $6,000 per job created in an Enterprise Zone or rural county.

  • Economic Development Transportation Fund
    The “Road Fund” provides grants to local governments on behalf of business, with monies used for road improvements — up to $2 million per project.

  • Rural Job Tax Credit
    A tax credit against sales and use or corporate income tax may be taken by eligible businesses for the creation of new jobs at a rate of $1,000 per job created.

  • Quick Response Training
    Grant funding is available to reimburse companies for customized training costs for new employees.

  • Incumbent Worker Training
    Grant funding is available to reimburse training costs for existing employees.

  • Rural Infrastructure Fund
    Grants made to local government on behalf of a business may fund up to 30% of the costs for public infrastructure upgrades.

  • Rural Community Development Revolving Loans
    A loan or loan guaranty available for a specific project that will lead to new jobs and increase the economic vitality and diversification of Florida’s rural counties.
  • Since 2004, private- and public-sector entities have worked with outstanding cooperation on the Rural Economic Development Catalyst Project. With financial backing from state lawmakers, the project’s goal is to recruit high-growth, high-wage, capital-intensive industries to Florida’s three Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC): North Central, Northwest and South Central.

    As part of the process, officials and consultants interviewed economic experts, gathered data and assessed local, state, national and global trends to select target industry priorities that make the most sense for each raegion.

    Next came an inventory of potential sites and an assessment of each by numerous state agencies to determine readiness for development. The sites were then matched to specific industry sectors in the three regions. Nearly 50 sites were reviewed, and while only four were ultimately selected as ready sites for immediate development, all offer future development potential.

    Industry choices and sites

    » Northwest: The industry sector of choice is building component design and manufacturing, with an emphasis on “green” engineering and materials, storm-resistant buildings, innovations with composite material, engineered woods and other new technologies. Site: Calhoun County Industrial Park.

    » North Central: Building component design and manufacturing was matched with a site in Columbia County near Lake City; and logistics and distribution, including inventory management and data processing, was matched with a site in Suwannee County near Live Oak.

    » South Central: Healthcare and related sciences emerged as the preferred industry sector; Sebring Regional Airport was deemed the most suitable site. In fact, with infrastructure in place, many businesses are already located at the Sebring Airport and shovel-ready acreage is still available.

    To learn more about RACEC, the catalyst site locations and other rural sites for development, go to www.eflorida.com.

    Many attractions

    Ecotourism is becoming big business in rural Florida. The Original Florida Inc. has been promoting nature-based and heritage tourism in 12 northern Florida counties since 1998, helping to publicize the area’s pristine lakes, creeks and rivers; forests and wildlife; heritage events; and small towns. From airboat rides in the Everglades and excursions into the scrub-brush of Florida’s Panhandle to canoeing the Suwannee River and you-pick-’em farms around Live Oak, rural tourism is catching on.

    Tags: North Central, Agriculture, Environment, Business Florida

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