Enterprise Flagler’s Tax and Build Plan, Part 3: Details and Talking Points
FlaglerLive | August 30, 2010
Editor’s Note: The following is a word for word rendition of Enterprise Flagler’s plan for an “economic development” tax on which voters will cast ballots in the November 2 election. It is not an endorsement. It is presented here as a matter of information, and to spur debate. For analysis of the plan, go here. For background and part 1 of the plan on the plan, go here. Part 2 is here, part 4 here.
The Plan of this initiative is to give our community the same tools and advantages that larger communities have in attracting and expanding companies that provide the jobs, the diversified tax base, and the quality of life we value.
As the residential market brought us to the top of the fastest growing communities for nearly a decade, the commercial sector fell by the wayside. No sizeable, new industrial buildings have been built in Flagler County since the 1980’s. Not only has this neglect lead to a tax base being primarily funded by residential use (8 6%), but this has also drastically limited our ability to attract new business and new jobs. Currently about 80% of the State job leads require an existing 50,000 sq. ft. building. Flagler County currently has no
buildings which meet this requirement.
This problem is not new. Discussions about this issue have been longstanding. As the housing market boomed, industrial growth remained a low priority. But with the recent collapse of our primary job sector; housing construction, the urgency to address our lack of job base has come to the forefront. The 2009 City of Palm Coast’s Annual Citizen Survey reflected a significant frustration: 98% of the respondents reported that economic development was the number one issue facing the City of Palm Coast.
The Plan is very focused. The monies raised by the referendum will address these issues by earmarking the revenue for economic development projects only. These funds cannot be diverted to other County expenditures or budget items. The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is tasked with evaluating the proposed projects and distributing the funds. Citizens can participate in the BOCC meetings; giving feedback and voicing concerns.
The Plan is divided into 3 areas of concern: infrastructure improvements, incentives, and enhanced marketing. Each one of these is essential to addressing local economic issues and increasing competitiveness. In concert, they represent the foundation of a strong economic future.
Infrastructure Improvements — a minimum of 60%: $9 million over 10 years
The lack of modern industrial space has been the largest barrier to economic development for Flagler County. Currently, 80% of state jobs leads pass us by because we do not have the facilities to meet their needs. To address the lack of modern facilities, the first two priorities are to build a Class “A” industrial park on the Flagler County Airport and a City Commerce Park. These will serve as templates for additional industrial/commerce parks in the cities of Bunnell and Palm Coast. These sites would be built out to pad-ready level with a “ready to occupy” facility. These targeted industries for these industrial/commerce parks are aviation, medical, clean energy, technology and other growth industries.
The Flagler County Airport has been viewed by our community as a “diamond in the rough”. Since 1974, industrial development at the airport has been part of the development plan for the area. However, this planned development has never occurred. This initiative would allow the airport to reach its full potential.
$5 million to the development of roads, water, sewer of the 130 acre industrial part and a permitted pad ready site.
$4 million to build a ready to occupy 100K sq. ft. building to address the demands of 80% of our job leads. The building can be subdivided to accommodate two or more businesses.
Infrastructure most often calls to mind these types of building projects; however workforce is also part of our community’s infrastructure. Companies are attracted to areas with a strong workforce. Demonstrating an educated workforce can further increase competitiveness. Vocational training for targeted industry skill sets could be funded through this initiative. Modern facilities and well trained prospective employees is a combination for success in the competitive arena of site selection.
Note: Flagler County and its Cities all desire to grow our economy by the use of local talent. Most of these governments have “Local Preference” ordinances that give favored treatment to our Flagler County Businesses (e.g. General Contractors, Sub-Contractors, Suppliers, etc.). To that end, when economic development dollars are spent locally for infrastructure and capital projects, every attempt will be made to keep those dollars circulating in Flagler County.
Incentives: a maximum of 30%: $4.5 million over 10 years
Incentives are needed for three primary purposes: closing the deal, changing our future and leveraging state and federal funding sources.
Attracting businesses to any area is extremely competitive today. Companies explore a multitude of locations when selecting a site for their business. When two or more potential sites have all the requirements needed for a prospecting company, it is an incentive that generally closes the deal. To protect taxpayers, these types of incentive agreements are based on job creation performance Rarely are incentives offered upfront. No jobs, no incentives.
Often, a community establishes a lofty targeted industry list and envisions their community to be the next Silicon Valley. These visions are great as they give you a goal and a direction to strive for, b4ut often these types of goals go unmet. It takes a catalyst, a “seed”, to start a targeted industry cluster. Just as in human nature, companies need motivation to be the first of their industry to set up shop. There is security in numbers. It is risky for a technology or medical device company to move to a community that does not already have similar successful enterprises. This is where incentives play a pivotal role in enticing
businesses to take this “leap of faith”.
Three primary focuses will be marine, industrial distribution.
Flagler County could be the new center for medical care, national headquarters or technology. Incentives can attract the first business of this kind and “clusters” of similar companies can grow around them. “Cluster” development allows an area to shine within target industries and attract the best and brightest stars of that industry, such as researchers, innovators and educators.
Incentives are based on job creation with consideration given to the economic impact of the business. Incentive agreements are performance based meaning that a company receives incentives based on the jobs they actually create. Up to 30% of this fund would be used to create a “war-chest” that would be administered by the BOCC and respective city as a resource to create incentive offering customized to the scope of the proposed project.
$2 million to attract high impact companies that provide the high wage, high skilled jobs that benefit a community.
$2.5 million specifically reserved to attract target industries and promote cluster development in medical, aviation, national headquarters and technology sectors.
Enhanced Marketing —10%: $1.5 million over 10 years
Marketing of a community has some of the same requirements as marketing any product or service. No more than 10% of this fund will be spent on the enhanced marketing of the community. To have a successful rebranding of our local economy, the rest of the world needs to know that Flagler County. is “open for business”. The BOCC and respective city will evaluate the best means to convey this message to the people responsible for choosing the sites (site selectors) in a timely and cost effective way.
For $3 a month per taxpayer, our community can have a comprehensive approach to economic development instead of a “wait and see”, “wing and a prayer” attitude. This plan will remove the current barriers that prevent job growth as well as address the imbalance in our tax base. This plan will create the fertile ground to grow the “seed” of our targeted industries. This is a strategic plan for the future of our local economy.
Many people are afraid of the word “tax”. The local economy is suffering and the time to begin reversing this downward spiral is now; before it is too late. If the community does not support this p1an—what is the alternative for our economic recovery? Waiting for the housing market to return, continuing to go through the never-ending cycle of boom and bust—does not support the vision and potential of our community.
Every day, someone asks “What is being done about the lack of jobs in our community?” This plan is the answer. Your vote is the solution.
Through collaborative input from the private sector and public partners (City and County), the Enterprise Flagler Board of Directors will serve as the recommending body for expenditures of the funds generated from this referendum. These recommendations shall be submitted to the BOCC and respective city for ultimate approval; utilizing complete transparency and full accountability, and reporting as defined within our “Benchmarks and Accountability” document.
These recommendations will not be limited to just newly relocated businesses. These job creation incentives and services created by this initiative would also be available to local expanding companies.
Enterprise Flagler is a one-stop resource for local businesses. Through a network of community partners such as the Center for Business Excellence, the Small Business Development Center and SCORE, our local businesses have many of the tools they need to expand within the county.
Existing business can also find success in the ancillary companies that new companies need, such as distribution, shipping, housing and a variety of local services. Supporting commercial and industrial growth builds a strong foundation for all local business.
“How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become
after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”—Lou Holtz
“Once Upon a Winning Season”
From the moment ITT set its eyes on the once rural area of Flagler County in 1969, it had unprecedented visions of what this community could become. Flagler County, like a young football team, was built on what ITT envisioned as its strength and talent; its ultimate attraction as an unsurpassed “quality of life” destination. Over the next three and a half decades, Flagler developed into a winning contender; ultimately becoming one of the most desirable places to live in the country and the fastest growing county in Florida as well as the nation.
Similar to college and professional football teams that build their winning seasons around one “star” player; Flagler County built its team, its economic foundation, on its real estate and housing industry. As long as our “star player” remained healthy and uninjured, our winning tenure remained secure. However, the collapse of the real estate and housing market, critically endangered Flagler’s current “game plan” and ultimately, Flagler’s winning season was over!
Behind any college or professional football team with a long standing winning track record, you will find a strong visionary leader (coach), a comprehensive plan with concise goals, objectives and benchmarks and a balanced team with a diversification of talents. This doesn’t just happen. The common denominator is funding. It takes money to attract a winning coach, develop a winning plan, and secure winning players.
If Flagler is ever to have a long standing winning track record, we must quit sitting on the bench. We must be led by visionaries; strong and insightful leaders and partners, raise the funds needed to develop and initiate a new comprehensive and diversified plan and GET FLAGLER IN THE GAME!
Vote Yes to the Economic Development Initiative, a Job Creation Referendum!
More Business = More Jobs Tax Relief A Better Quality of Life for the Residents of
Why vote yes…what’s in it for me?
Putting into place a truly dedicated funding source for economic development, designed to create quality job opportunities, enables our county to lessen the tax burden on the residential property owner.
Voting yes on the Economic Development Initiative; A Job Creation Referendum will create the funds necessary to attract industrial/commercial businesses to our county. Securing businesses that not only bring quality jobs to our county but that also pay more taxes than they use increases our tax base.
In addition, as we attract more businesses to our county, we increase the number of jobs and reduce our unemployment. Gainfully employed residents, both current and prospective, creates greater housing demand as well as creates an additional need for ancillary non-government services, resulting in the occupation of our now vacant retail spaces.
Increasing our tax base without putting an additional strain on our government in the way of services coupled with the increased sales tax revenues generated from financially healthy residents creates a better quality of life for our residents. Our government is now able to provide us with quality services such as law enforcement, emergency and medical services, public transportation and educational, cultural and recreational opportunities.
If we do nothing, we will continue to do economic development the way we have done for years; one piece at a time, with expenditures taken out of line item budgeting from the general operating fund. This current process has resulted in the lack of follow-up and accountability for where or how our dollars are spent and the continued reliance on our residential tax payer to front the bill.