September 27, 2020

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Florida's Urban Advantages - Worth a Second Look

Unique opportunities and incentives await growing companies in Florida's urban areas.

Ginger Broslat | 10/1/2007

Enterprise Zones


Urban Job Tax Credits:

Eligible businesses locating within Urban Enterprise Zones and hiring a specific number of employees may be eligible for job tax credits.

» Jobs Tax Credit, Sales Tax — Credit against sales tax for 20% or 30% of wages paid to new employees who reside within an Enterprise Zone. To be eligible, a business must create at least one new job. Cannot be used in conjunction with the corporate income tax credit.

» Job Tax Credit, Corporate Income Tax — Credit against corporate income tax for 15% or 20% of wages paid to new employees who reside within an Enterprise Zone. Cannot be used in conjunction with the sales tax credit.
Enterprise Zones are defined as specific geographic areas targeted for economic revitalization. If you elect to site a business and create new jobs in one of Florida’s 30 Urban Enterprise Zones, your company may be eligible for an assortment of tax incentives. Among the financial rewards available to qualifying Enterprise Zone businesses are job tax credits against either sales or corporate income taxes; sales tax refunds for business equipment and building materials; and sales tax exemptions on the purchase of electrical energy.

To receive an Enterprise Zone designation, an urban area must demonstrate that both public and private sectors are working proactively and in partnership to increase an area’s economic vitality. Erik Bredfeldt, director of the city of Gainesville’s economic development agency, believes that the designation carries as much weight with interested companies as the actual incentives.

More than a financial boost

“Acquiring Enterprise Zone status opens the door for incentives for a company planning to locate or expand, but it’s really more than that,” says Bredfeldt. “It’s a statement that all municipalities involved are on board and ready to negotiate favorable conditions to bring an employer to the community. Yes, the incentives are very important, but it’s also a state of mind.”

For Gainesville at least, that state of mind has brought quite a few major employers to the Gainesville Regional Airport’s Industrial Park and surrounding area, including Nordstrom’s Distribution Center, Florida Foods Distribution Center and, more recently, Eclipse Aviation and DayJet.

Brownfields

Abandoned, idled or under-used commercial properties that are contaminated or appear to be so may be defined as “Brownfields.” The actual environmental status of sites within a designated Brownfield area can only be evaluated by environmental assessments, and once these assessments are made, cities can begin the application process to obtain grants and incentives from federal, state and local economic and environmental protection agencies for the purpose of property remediation.

A little help goes a long way

Lee Farkas knew the time had come to expand the corporate headquarters of his Ocala-based mortgage processing company, Taylor, Bean & Whittaker, but he didn’t see much promise in the surrounding neighborhood. The closest possibility for expansion was a site to the east of his current location where a deserted meat packing plant still stood — less than desirable for what Farkas had in mind.

“There’s no way it would have been cost effective for us to purchase that property, then go through all the demolition and necessary cleanup,” says Farkas. “The city of Ocala’s decision to declare the property a Brownfield site really got the ball rolling.”

The city was able to obtain a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency for Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments in order to determine the site’s readiness for redevelopment. But then, as the remediation process got under way, several unregistered underground storage tanks were discovered; one of them ruptured and began leaking petroleum contaminants. More than 30 drums — each containing 55 gallons of unknown substances — had to be removed from the site before development could proceed. In addition, representatives from OSHA had to be called in to monitor the deactivation of an ammonia freezer. But once the land was cleared, a grant from the state’s Economic Development Transportation Fund could be used to repair and widen the road fronting on the project.

Tags: North Central, Environment, Business Florida

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