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Local Government County Looks to Abatements and Economic Development Incentives to Boost Local Economy


BRADENTON -- At Tuesday's afternoon BOCC workshop, the focus was on economic development. The board discussed the use of abatements to drive economic growth, the use of which were expanded with recent state legislation. Economic Development Manager Karen Stewart gave an update on the county's investments in incentives to businesses, which she says have created over 4,000 new jobs.


Under voter approval, Florida's Constitution authorizes property tax exemptions for economic development. Section 196.1995 Florida Statute was amended in 2011 to expand business and job creation. If voters approve an abatement, for the first time, the BOCC could grant property tax exemptions. It cannot include the value of the land and can be revoked if certain criteria is not met. The BOCC has the flexibility to determine the criteria as long as they meet some state guidelines defined in Section 288.106 (2) (q) Florida Statute, which prescribe targeting industry.

Similar to the restrictions and/or qualifications placed on CRAs and other development programs, this will be across the board property tax exemptions. It can be set at any percent for as long as the BOCC agrees, and be decided on a case by case basis. The BOCC must adopt a separate ordinance for each authorized economic development tax exemption granted to a qualified business.

County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said, "This is little more than adding another tool to the toolbox of our economic development." Commissioners will discuss the matter further at Thursday's BOCC land use meeting.

Economic Development Incentives

Karen Stewart, Manatee's Economic Development Manager put the subject in perspective, providing an update on the condition of the businesses that have received economic assistance. Stewart said 62 projects have been awarded performance-based job creation incentives, creating 4,096 new jobs at an average wage earning 37 percent higher than the Manatee average wage. The targeted sectors are: Medical, Machinery, Information, Trade, Sports, Manufacturing, Research, Clean Energy and Technology.  


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