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Rural Advantages: Ready for Business

Credits, Refunds, Incentives

More Reasons to Locate in Rural Florida

» 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.

» 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.

» 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.

Launching and running a business in a rural community has undeniable advantages — especially if that business is located in one of Florida’s 32 rural counties. In addition to an idyllic lifestyle and pristine natural beauty, rural Florida offers abundant land, a ready workforce and these advantages:

» Community colleges and training institutions are within a half-hour drive; urban amenities and coastal pleasures are never far away; and an excellent transportation network provides easy access.

» Broadband networks reach almost every corner of Florida.

» No Florida rural business is more than 90 miles from deepwater port or more than a two-hour drive from a major commercial airport.

» More than 60% of the continental U.S. can be reached via overnight freight from any Florida location.

» Rural-based businesses may be eligible for incentives, tax credits and worker training programs.


Three regions of Florida have been singled out for special attention as Rural Areas of Critical Economic Concern (RACEC). As such, these regions — North Central, Northwest and South Central — each put together a regional program of economic research, site selection and marketing.

North Central RACEC

With proximity to Interstates 10 and 75, rail lines and Jacksonville’s busy seaport, North Central Florida’s warehousing, logistics and supply chain industry is booming. Target, U.S. Cold Storage and Wal-Mart are among the corporate leaders with high-tech distribution centers here; others are planned.

In support, the Employ Florida Banner Center for Logistics & Distribution based at Lake City Community College in Columbia County has initiated associate of science and associate of applied science degree programs in supply chain management and logistics.

Ecotourism activities support a developing tourism industry sector in North Central counties. In 2008, government, business and environmental leaders formed the Ichetucknee Partnership to protect the crystal clear waters of the Ichetucknee River and its springs; the Suwannee River Water Management District has pledged $750,000 to fund the partnership.

Swimmers at Fanning Springs
Swimmers are drawn to crystal-clear Fanning Springs on the Suwannee River.

Since 2006, Madison County and its local municipalities have built a growth corridor to include sewer and water lines for three interchanges along I-10 to encourage industrial and commercial development.

Madison also approved a half-cent sales tax to pay for a new $20-million hospital, which will serve as a training site for students enrolled in North Florida Community College’s registered nursing program. Construction on the new, 25-bed Madison County Memorial Hospital is slated to begin in late 2008.

In Putnam County, Seminole Electric Cooperative plans to add a third 750-megawatt coal-fired unit, which will increase the plant’s generating capacity by 60%. Seminole serves approximately 1.7 million customers in portions of 46 Florida counties.

Northwest RACEC

Liberty Industries received a $4-million “Farm to Fuel” grant toward building a $50-million ethanol production plant in Liberty County.

In Gadsden County, CDS Manufacturing has opened its third precast concrete production facility at Gretna.

In Jackson County, groundbreaking is scheduled for November 2008 on the $16-million Chipola College Center for the Arts in Marianna. The new home to the school’s Fine and Performing Arts Departments will include a 650-seat theater, offices, recital hall, teaching and recording studios and a “black box” theater for audiences of 100 or less.

A deal to bring Green Circle Bio-Energy’s $100-million, 300,000-square-foot wood pellet plant to Cottondale earned Jackson County Development Council the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s 2008 Award for Rural Economic Development. The plant produced its first pellets for export to Europe in April 2008.

South Central RACEC

Many rural businesses in Florida have global connections; Organix-South is one example. The 20-employee company manufactures herbal body care products and supplements at a Hardee County site using an ingredient obtained from India, then ships finished goods to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

Autumn Blum
A native Floridian and former city dweller, Autumn Blum found a rural location just right for her globally directed company, Organix-South. From her 7,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in rural Hardee County, Blum ships herbal body and hair care products and herbal supplements around the world.
[Photo courtesy of Organix-South]

Organix-South has tripled in size since 2006, and in 2007 moved into its new 7,500-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Bowling Green. The location is pleasantly rural, says owner Autumn Blum, but it has everything necessary to conduct business globally, including a T-1 broadband link.

Economic development officials, the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation and others are working together to identify transportation and mobility needs for the region. Their “Heartland Rural Mobility Plan” could one day mean a region-wide mass transit system.

Enhanced Incentives:
Companies can benefit substantively by locating in a Rural Enterprise Zone (REZ).

» Jobs Tax Credit A tax credit for 30% of wages paid to employees living in the REZ (45% if more than 20% of employees live in the REZ) for up to 24 months against corporate income tax or sales and use tax for new jobs created.

» Property Tax Credit A tax credit on corporate income tax equal to 96% of ad valorem taxes paid on new or improved property, for up to $25,000 per year for five years ($50,000 per year if 20% of employees live within the REZ).

» Business Equipment Sales Tax Refund Refund of sales taxes paid on business property with a sales price of at least $5,000 per unit and used exclusively in the REZ for at least three years.

» Building Materials Sales Tax Refund Refund of sales taxes paid on the purchase of building materials used to rehabilitate real property located in the REZ. Up to $5,000 is refundable ($10,000 if 20% of employees live within the REZ) per parcel.

» Sales Tax Exemption for Electrical Energy A 50% sales tax exemption on the purchase of electrical energy to qualified businesses located within the REZ if the municipality has reduced the municipal utility tax by at least 50%; a 100% exemption is available if 20% of permanent, full-time employees live in the REZ.

» Community Contribution Tax Credit A 50% credit on state corporate income tax, insurance premium tax or sales tax refund for donation to an approved local community development project.