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Investing in economic development incentives will boost Florida's economy

Florida TaxWatch, the state’s premier government watchdog group, today released a report calling for the Legislature to invest in the state’s economic incentive programs to continue to grow the economy and create key jobs for Floridians. The analysis finds that Florida’s competitive tax climate and welcoming weather entice businesses to our state, but Florida must provide targeted incentive packages that will help create high-paying jobs in the Sunshine State as we compete with other states for domestic and global business.

“Our state’s economy is vibrant and growing. But if Florida wants to attract high-wage jobs that would not otherwise come here, our leaders must commit to a targeted, focused effort to compete with other states,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Strong leadership and support from our elected officials that consistently and competitively fund our economic development incentive programs will ensure that Florida remains the top state to work and to live.”

“The competitive nature of today’s economy requires the strategic use of economic development incentives in order to maintain the tremendous economic growth in the Sunshine State,” said Florida TaxWatch Center for Competitive Florida Chairman U.S. Senator George LeMieux. “Investing in our economic development incentive programs should be a top priority for lawmakers during the remainder of the 2016 Legislative Session.”

Leaders from the Department of Economic Opportunity and Enterprise Florida joined TaxWatch and the state’s top business leaders to speak about the need to invest in Florida’s future.

“It is critically important that Florida invests in the future and promotes our state as the best state to build and grow a business. Supporting our economic development incentive toolkit will provide Floridians with more high-wage job opportunities.” said Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

“Enterprise Florida is committed to growing business in Florida and creating jobs for Floridians. By investing in economic development incentives, Florida can bring highly competitive projects to our state and further diversify our economy,” said Mike Grissom, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Enterprise Florida.

Since Florida’s economic development incentive programs target specific industries, qualifying businesses can bring in hundreds of high-wage jobs and broaden our economy.

The most successful of the state’s economic development incentive programs are tax refunds, like the Qualified Targeted Industries (QTI) tax incentive, which provide the state with a significant return on investment (ROI) to every dollar allocated. The QTI garners almost $7 in revenue to the state for every dollar invested in the program. Other incentive programs like the Quick Action Closing Fund (QACF) have also demonstrated significant success. The QACF is a cash grant incentive that generates $1.10 for bundled projects to $6.10 for a single project for every $1 investment.

“With states constantly competing to bring businesses to their cities, it is important that Florida can offer lucrative incentive options to entice companies to do business in our state,” said Tom Feeney, President and CEO of the Associated Industries of Florida. "Florida must ensure that our economic development incentive programs are adequately funded and properly organized in order to competitively attract jobs. Additionally, we believe it is essential these programs demonstrate positive economic advantages to the citizens of Florida."

“Competitors are offering diverse and significant incentives to attract businesses to their states,” said Doug Wheeler, President and CEO of the Florida Ports Council.  “Sufficient funding for economic development programs will ensure Florida can remain competitive in the global economic market.”

“Economic development incentives that promote manufacturing are important to the vitality of Florida’s economy,” said Nancy Stephens, Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of Florida. “Continuing to make targeted investments in economic development will drive industries like manufacturing forward and boost our state’s economy.”

“While the majority of jobs created are not through economic incentives, incentives play a role as the state tries to attract high skill, high wage industries that help diversify Florida’s economy,” said Frank Walker, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “As we continue to compete against other states, we must ensure that we have a well-funded, streamlined economic development process that offers a good return on investment to the state and protects taxpayers.”

For the full report, A Catalyst for Growth: An Analysis of Florida's Economic Development Incentive Programs, click here.

About Florida TaxWatch

As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute & government watchdog for more than one third of a century, Florida TaxWatch works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses.

Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit http://www.floridataxwatch.org.