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Meeker on Economic Development: Mountains Of Questions Before the Next Summit

| February 22, 2011

Still looking for the way out of the tunnel. (© Michaela)

By Frank Meeker

As William Arthur Ward put it, the pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.  Let’s face it, we have our share of pessimists in Flagler County.  I read the letters to the editor section in all of our local papers and they appear to be everywhere.

Frank Meeker

Then there are the optimists.  They want change, but aren’t sure what they want to change, but they know “something” has to change.  Lastly come the realists.  To me, those who choose this path, I’d like to think I’m one of them, recognize that what we’ve been doing in the past regarding levels of service, the size of government, how much we tax, and even how do we handle economic development, will require some “adjusting of the sails.”  With the economic summit coming up, I’ve been thinking over my own “ten economic development commandments for trimming sails,” not necessarily ranked in any order of importance.  Below are some of my questions:

1)      Should Palm Coast just remain a bedroom community for other areas and forget trying to grow a city much bigger than we already are?  Until we have the guts to find a way to answer this question, we’ll never have full buy-in.

2)      Should Palm Coast still opt out of any economic development proposals, let the economy improve on its own, and wait for the commercial/industrial folks to come to us?  It’s happened before so why not just wait it out and see what happens?

3)      Should government be in the business of economic development in the first place?

a.       If the answer is yes, to what extent should they be involved?  Should they create pad- ready sites (that is, sites where buildings can go up almost immediately), create an industrial park, put up spec buildings, offer incentives?

b.      What types of incentives should be included?  Cash, impact fees, mitigation credits, old city halls?

4)      One of the prime considerations of anybody thinking to relocate here is the “availability of the workforce.”  Actually, I think the question is better put, “what is the capability of the workforce.”  Does our workforce have the training and skill set necessary to support some of the new businesses trying to relocate here, or will new residents with preferred skill sets replace others who couldn’t adjust forcing those that cannot adapt to move elsewhere?

5)      Recent studies have indicated there are a number of reasons potential commercial/industrial projects do not locate to a new area.  Some didn’t respond, but for those that did 21% indicated the incentives offered were not enough and 10% indicated they couldn’t find the right land or proper building. Do we think our county can compete dollar wise with other local governments having millions of tax dollars at their disposal to throw at these new projects?  Does local government at the city or county level present roadblocks to new businesses with overly stringent permitting requirements, difficult land development codes, and inept “bureaucrats” imposing high cost impact fees?  For example, I looked at some numbers from Jacksonville recently which showed after land cost, site work, and construction cost were added to concurrency fees, the cost to a big box retailer was about $8.25 million.  Their rental income was only $520,000 and mortgage payment was $600,000 so they were in an $80,000 hole to start with, and the project didn’t happen.  Remove the $1.2 million for concurrency fees, the project comes into town, jobs are produced and taxable value is created that far exceeds the “benefit” of concurrency fees coming into local government.

The Live Commentary

6)      Do any “benefits” outweigh the risk of failure from poor implementation by government or uncertainties of the marketplace when using the public as the funding source?  It’s one thing to risk your own money on a venture; it’s another to risk the public’s.  Further, does the economic development effort implemented promote the circulation of additional secondary dollars within the community?  Do other smaller companies that support the larger effort encourage an exchange of money locally with other businesses?

7)      Will our efforts compete with other local businesses and the funds they have already invested in our local economy?  Is it fair to finance a government effort to compete against other local business owners unless both are on a level playing field?

8)      Is it true if one benefits, we all benefit?  Should county and local city government directly benefit in their general funds from the investment of the public’s tax dollars?  Should funding priorities be encouraged within Community Redevelopment Agencies?  The way CRAs are set up, the CRA benefits, but not the local governments or county government.  Do we care?

9)      Should we fund any project that doesn’t have any “skin” in the game?  The more the company has invested, the more likely they are to stick around.  The way tax breaks are tossed about, the local government won’t receive any direct benefits to their general fund for probably the first five to 20 years as a property tax or capital improvement tax is usually the very first incentive offered to attract the business in the first place.  If they have nothing vested within the local community and they relocate someplace else as the tax breaks dry up, is the creation of jobs over ten to 20 years enough for local governments to spend money attracting them?

10)  Lastly, during the comment period on economic development at the joint meeting with local governments and the county there was no consensus on funding.  Is it possible we are ready to tackle the issue of economic development with varied views of cost and benefit?

I’ll be trying to get answers to these and other questions at the summit.  I hope all of you will take a keen interest in the discussions and get involved wherever you can.  Answers to some of these questions may trim the sails and adjust the course of Economic Development one way or another.

Frank Meeker is the District 2 member of the Palm Coast City Council. Reach him by email.

The next countywide meetings on economic development are scheduled for Friday, March 4, from 1 to 6 p.m., Saturday, March 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and March 18, if a third meeting proves necessary, at a time yet to be determined. All three meetings will take place at the Flagler County Association of Realtors building on State Road 100.

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20 Responses for “Meeker on Economic Development: Mountains Of Questions Before the Next Summit”

  1. Elbert Tucker says:

    Andy Anderson once told me it takes two things to make a good politician: good teeth and hair. Frank has these two items in his favor. He’s on his way. But then, it looks as if Frank also has the makings of a good statesman, which is far more important than being a good politician. I think Frank is leaning, as I lean, toward the Jefferson line of thinking, which is we’re probably much better off with less government. But it seems as prosperity creeps upon us, politicians see the need to take as much of the people’s money as they can get away with, without the people giving them the boot. That would be the Hamilton view. Our present governments, some more than others, seem to want to tell all the chance takers, small business being the most abundant in this category, what they can and can’t do with ideas to make themselves prosperous. If government would step back with its onerous, cumbersome hoops through which to jump, maybe businesses would thrive again as they once did. If Frank could help us trim the sail, and lay hold to the rudder in perhaps a unified direction, I think he might be leading us to smoother sailing. And Frank, good luck with that unification thing.

  2. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    To properly approach the future it is helpful to know the past when Palm Coast was a Boomtown last Century:
    From the Year


    Dear Palm Coaster:
    If a history book were published about Palm Coast and its people, an exciting and fulfilling chapter would be written about the year 1978.
    Firm roots were planted by ITT Community Development Corporation ( ICDC) as the headquarters building opened, fulfilling a commitment to consolildate offices from New York, Miami and Palm Coast. The facility and personnel presence in Palm Coast highlight the p0int that ICDC continued taking direct involvement in Palm Coast in developing a planned and controlled community where families can
    and play.
    Now in the final stages is another key development. The Palm Coast Shopping Center with Publix and Eckerds will offer one stop shppping facilities in fashionable and attractive surroundings.
    We are happy that golf sensation Nancy Lopez has chosen Palm Coast as here official place of residence, and is the touring pro for Palm Coast Golf Club. As we approach the 3,000 population mark in this water-oriented community, we have become the “home-Port” for Nancy’s Navy.
    Arnie’s Army likewise had an enthusiastic showing here as Arnold Palmer played our golf course after signing a contract to design Palm Coast’s second golf course which will be completed by December 32, 1980.
    A further expansion was made in our tennis activities with the opening of six lighted cushionized tennis courts.
    The Palm Coast Community YMCA has soared with interest and participation. Memberships and individual donations have assisted the programs and activities conducted for youngsters and adults living throughout the county.
    Houses of worship likewise have made significant and lasting strides in the community. Services are being held in the St. Mark by the Sea Lutheran Chuirch and the First Baptist Church of Palm Coast. Clergy and parishioners of Mother Seton Catholic Church broke ground in September for a church on the newly opened Belle Terre Parkway. The new church will be completed in April or early May.
    In providing support services to the growing community, expansions are being made on the wastewater treatment plant which will be completed in February and the water treatment plant to be completed this spring.
    Palm Coast Utility Corporation has relocated from a model home near the Welcome Center into new offices off of Old King’s Road. New rates, fees and charges were placed in effect on January 1, 1979. These adjustments represent the first overall revision of rates by the Utility since 1971. Due to inflation and increased construction costs, the contribution-in-aid -construction for water has been established in the amount of $640. or $810 depending on Section. The water tap, meter installation and connection fees will range between $255. and $320. For new homesite purchasers who do not connect to the system, there will be an assessed availability fee of $4.00 per month for both water and sewer service.
    In the area of residential lot improvement, all improvements including central sewer facilities scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, were completed on time.
    A second fire truck was loaned by ICDC to the Palm Coast Fire District and the volunteer Fire Department.
    Our own Palm Coast Construction Company has entered the residential market and is adding final touches to prototype models.

    The Sheraton Palm Coast Resort Inn ( Oceanside) received awards of excellence at the Sheraton World Conference held in Boston in September.

    Headlining the Spring Festival was Archie Campbell, of television’s Hee Haw fame. This six-day celebration was highlighted with and international bathtub boat race, the Italian American Festa, a four-mile foot race, band concerts, fireworks, tennis and golf tournaments.
    The year was not all fun and games. Research and hours of hard work were poured into a four-year effort as the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) was completed. Working directly with state planning agencies and receiving valuable input from outside consultants, the ICDD planning staff has readied a plan which provides a working framework describing the

    locations of future residential units, parts, roads, recreational areas, industrial property and commercial stores.

    This year as Palm Coast continues to grow and develop, we at ICDD look forward to the many new and exciting events which will take place. Personally, I am very enthused about the future and hope our residents and future residents share this enthusiasm about our community. Sincerely, Alan Smolen
    Alan Smolen President AS/agk

    The above from: ITT Community Development Corporation, Exective Offices, Palm Coast, Florida 32051 Telephone (904)445-2628.

  3. Palm Coast Pioneers says:

    From the Year:


    Dear Palm Coaster,
    It seems every year gets better at Palm Coast and 1979 was a year of solid accomplishment. A brief look at the year in retrospect will explain why I feel that way.
    Early last year Palm Coast Shopping Center saw five businesses open and in April, Publix Supermarket held its grand opening. Today there are 17 tenants in the shopping center, with more on the way.
    The East Flagler Service District was activated in April. This was a giant step towards Palm Coast having one uniform governmental entity.

    The Palm Coast Industrial Park gained a new tenant with the decision by the Wittemann Company of Buffalo, New York, to relocate here.

    We also began construction of a 25,000 square foot building shell, which we will finish to suit a tenant, and thus provide a competitive delivery date for new industry.

    A new ITT subsidiary ITT Transportation Distribution Service Center, established its headquarters in Palm Coast.
    Another busy element was the religious sector of Palm Coast. The Mother Seton Catholic Church was dedicated in May. Temple Beth Shalom is under construction and the United Presbyterians and United Methodists are both planning to build houses of worship.
    The 200 member Italian American Club held its annual Festa in the Spring, and the club purchased an acre of land where the clubhouse will eventually be built.
    The amenities in Palm Coast continue to expand with the new Swim and Racquest Club completed in December 1979, the expansion of the Marina facilities nearing completion , and our second 18 hole golf course, which was designed by Armond Palmer and Ed Seay, is under construction and due for completion by the end of December 1980.
    Sepaking of golf, Nancy Lopez has continued to represent Palm Coast well by leading the LPGA in wins. Nancy will also purchase one of the new Fairways Condominiums nearing completion , along the 17th Fairway.
    The capacities of the water treatment plant and the wastewater treatment plant were expanded last year. The water plant tripled its capacity and the wastewater plant doubled its capacity. Not only de we have good water in Palm Coast, but the water service we provide had a direct bearing on the reduction of fire insurance rates for residents of the Palm Coast Fire District – a savings for everyone in the District.
    Another highlight last year was the opening of Daytona Beach Community College Flagler Center in the Palm Coast Shopping Center. With nearly 400 students from all parts of the Country, the center has already outgrown its facilities and may soon be expanding to a
    second building in the shopping center.
    Continuing in education, ICDC again last year awarded a 1,000 scholarship to a Flagler Palm Coast High School graduating senior.
    A middle school has been recommended by the State, and ICDC has donated 20 acres of land to the School Board for the school site with an option to purchase an additional 10 acres if needed.
    Our postal service grew again last year. The new Palm Coast Post Office opened in March and began home delivery service in November.
    Construction of new homes was brisk last year, nearing the 300 mark. Our new model home center opened in the Woodlands featuring homes by Palm Coast Construction Company, Brattlof Construction Company and Red Carpet Development.
    The models are open in our new 200 unit condominium being constructed along the 16th and 17th golf course fairways, and units are available for sale in the states where we are registered.
    After many months of planning the I-95 interchange moved closer to reality. Constuction should begin by early 1980.
    Tournaments were much in evidence last year. First, The Nancy Lopez Pro-Am was held in February, followed by the Florida PGA Tournament of Champions . In June, The Colgate/PalmCoast World Mixed Team Championship was won be Lee Trevino and Nancy Lopez. The Michelob Light/Palm Coast Pro-Am Tennis Championships were played at our tennis complex. Out Touring pro Tom Gullikson, who is building a new home in Palm Coast played an exciting exhibition match with another outstanding pro Marty Riesssen.
    Approximately 6,000 homesites were completed by the end of 1979. In addition to all committed improvements, these homesites have central sewer facilities.
    All in all, it was a tremendous year in PalmCoast, and we look forward to 1980 and the beginning of Palm Coast’s second 10 years, Sincerely, Alan Smolen President EXEC1/B

    The above from: ITT Community Development Corporation, Exective Offices, Palm Coast, Florida 32051 Telephone (904)445-2628

  4. Palm Coast Pioneers says:


    Dear Palm Coaster
    The year 1980 was an important milestone year for Palm Coast as several
    major projects were finished and others were speeding toward completion.

    Perhaps the most enthusiasm has been generated by the I-95 interchange which
    is soon to be completed at St. Joe Grade Road. The 3.6 million interchange
    will mean less travel time, reduced transportation costs and the ability for
    quicker response to emergency services for Palm Coast residents.

    Palm Coast development – both residential and commercial- experienced a rapid
    growth during the year. In spite of a national downward trend, housing
    starts in Palm Coast continued to show significan increases, up 12 % from

    Palm Coast housing took new directions in 1980, as construction began on a
    number of new model homes. included are luxury homes now under construction
    near the Pine Lakes Golf Course, waterway homes across from the Welcome
    Center, and moderate priced homes off of Belle Terre Parkway North. A total
    of 16 new model shelter units are planned to be opened at various times
    during 1981.

    Contributing significantly to the 1980 total of over 400 housing starts is
    the accelerated condominium activity. Three additional phases ( 76) units
    which are scheduled for completion within the next four months, will bring
    the Fariways condominium complex to a total of 200 units.

    The highlight of commercial activity was the grand opening of The Witteman
    Company headquarters. Formerly based in Buffalo, New York, Wittemann moved
    into their new 1.25 million Palm Coast facility in July, opening
    70 jobs for the local workforce.

    The response to the newly completed Professional Office Building, which is
    already 75 percent leased, ws so favorable that plans now are being made for
    additional professional office space construction.

    Palm Coast amenities also were in the forefront of the communitys growth
    during the past year. The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club had its grand
    opeing last Spring, and now hosts many swim meets throughout the year.

    The Palm Coast Marina, one of the finest docking facilities on the Southeast
    Coast, was officially christened last Spring.

    The Beautiful new Pine Lakes
    Country Club golf course, designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay. held its
    grand opeing in December, and is in excellent playing shape. Final plans
    were approved in late 1980 for the new Bowling Center. This facility, to be
    located on Old Kings’ Road, just west of the shopping center, is scheduled
    for completion during the summer of 1981.

    For Palm Coast clubs and organizations, 1980 was the busiest year I can
    remember. The Internation Festival, Italian American Fests, Mother Seton
    Church’s annual Oktoberfest, Palm Coast Vicic Associationa July 4th and
    Labor Day celebrations and concerts of classical and jazz music were
    tremendous successes.

    The Flagler Palm Coast Kiwanis Club brought the Circus to town in April, the
    Flagler County Friends of the Library opened a library in the Shopping
    Center, The Italian American Club began construction of their new club
    facility, and the Palm Coast YMCA sponsosred a regional swim meets, soccer,
    and volley ball leagues, parades, dances and parties.

    The relilgious sector of Palm Coast continued to expand in 1980. First
    services were held in March at the New Temple Beth Shalom on Wellington
    Drive, and the Presbyterian Church of Palm Coast broke ground for a worship
    facility of their own on Florida Park Drive.

    As of July, 1980, the Florida Legislature placed Palm Coast Utility
    Corporation under the jurisdiction fo the PSC. Under this new arrangement,
    the Utility has sought and may periodically seek new water and sewer rates,
    fees and charges from the Public Service Commission, Tallahassee, Florida
    32304. where current and pending rates are available.

    Further steps for expanded educational facilities in Flagler County were
    bgun in 1980. a 6 Million school bond isssue received voter approval in
    September, giving the Flagler County School District the go ahead for
    construction of a middle school in Palm Coast. The site consists of 30 acres
    of land, 20 or which were donated by ICDC.

    Agreements were finalized between ICDC and Daytona Beach Community College
    for an ICDC donation of 100 acres to be used in the future as a Flagler
    County branch campus.

    Palm Coast’s growth also was evident in the living rooms of our residents.
    Palm Cable, Inc., continued its expansion program making cable TV service
    available to more than 1,000 homes in Palm Coast. Home Box Office HBO and
    Cinemax are now available to cable TV subscribers. In addition, installation
    of a new satellite receiving station in September made possible the TV
    reception of the Superstation Atlanta’s Channel 17.

    Im certain that when the history of Palm Coast is penned sometime in the
    distant future, the year that began the Community’s second decade 1980 will
    warrant two chapters instead of one. It has been a year of outstanding
    accomplishment in Palm Coast; one in which we can all take pride, an I look
    forward to even greater growth and progress in the years ahead.
    Alan Smolen.

    The above from: ITT Community Development Corporation, Exective Offices, Palm Coast, Florida 32051 Telephone (904)445-2628

  5. Flagler Man says:

    1. Palm Coast must continue to grow like every other city in order to remain viable. Cities that become stagnant die.
    2. Yes, Palm Coast should avoid this tax boondoggle along with the other local governments.
    3. To a limited extent. Government’s job is not to become a marketing firm or become real estate speculators. It is to create a positive regulatory environment and encourage growth and investment through leveraging of infrastructure and thoughtful public policy. The best incentive is to create a vibrant community where someone desires to live work and play.
    4. With the highest unemployment in the state, Flagler County’s workforce is very available. Whether the workforce is capable depends on the particular industry but there are certainly a lot of workers to pick from.
    5. Bureaucrats don’t actually impose impact fees, they administer them. Before getting into an antigovernment rant, it is important to realize that distinction. Nonetheless, streamlining permitting and eliminating processes that don’t add value is a good strategy. Eliminating other barriers to job creation can also be a fair approach. Just don’t forget that someone has to pay for the impacts of new growth.
    6. Government should not be involved in this mess.
    7. No, that is a very good example of why government should not be in the business of investing public dollars to build spec buildings.
    8. This question is unclear. If a CRA benefits, so does the local government in which it is located.
    9. Government should not be involved in this game.
    10. Local governments are not ready. They are more focused on getting the money than understanding what they will do with the money.

  6. NortonSmitty says:

    Palm Coasts die was cast at it’s inception. The Developers and their Real Estate Remoras envisioned turning swampland that was so valueless it was only fit to grow Pine tree’s on into a sort of downscale Boca Raton. With rattlesnakes.

    With a lot of Marketing and a lot of Stucco and a few Spanish Tile roofs, the Marks would flock in, the Visionaries and Remoras would get rich enough to move to the REAL Boca, and the words Sustainable Community were just a single lesson in Community 101 probably inserted by some radical commie professor to sabotage the free market.

    Thirty years later, our Communities proud founding-fathers have moved on to the next land-rape, and the free market they worship so has spoken: $800 per month for a 3 bedroom house w/Florida room. Asking price, all day long. P-section, R-, C-, everywhere. If you can’t put this in perspective, let me:

    Palm Coast is competing in the same market as Holly Hill, AND LOSING! That’s right, the rents are less here than Holly Hill. I think the main reason is that Holly Hill has a much shorter commute to any real Jobs. Or maybe it’s the rattlesnakes. Or Ramoras.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This will be the input of a local resident and small business owner that is still functioning, in spite of the tragic financial crisis endured.
    Our local economy can be easily energized to start with, by stopping the outsourcing that takes place in this county and cities with our public monies funded big contracts. Will be just a start. The small businesses still open around us, need it. Before the financial debacle, just enough work and jobs were provided by the energetic construction industry, financial entities, insurance and other related local private business. Then we were busy enough to fight for our public funded contracts. Times have changed and now those outsourced public contracts can make or break us, in this county. We, the still existing small businesses and I speak for all my colleagues in all the different services and manufacturing with the same goals, are not looking for further tax breaks ( that will create more unemployed) we do not need half a million grant for some Cakes Across our pockets, or costly relocation reimbursements, as we are right here, neither we demand structures or acres of free location site or tax exemptions. We had the support of our community organizations, our local residents and each others support keeping our work local, that made it possible for us to survive this crisis. What we need now, to call back to work, our lay off workers is that those big contracts going elsewhere, be bid and assigned to us local businesses. As we do not have the construction business and related anymore, then we need our public generated local contracts in all areas of supply and assigned locally, so we can thrive again. Our businesses pay good salary rates upwards of $14 and $15/hour and some offer even some shared medical insurance. We are not the greedy mammoth corporations always hungry for more tax payers funds. We are the small businesses the very base of our our middle American society.The severe financial crisis is also caused by the high unemployment that do not generate the payroll and income tax from over 30 million unemployed and further more we have the drain, to pay well deserved unemployment benefits. Recouping our jobs promotes spending monies in our tows businesses that in turn generate sales taxes besides creating more occupancy and stores leasing, also more insurance policies sold. Empty store fronts left from our colleagues that went under, in all our strip malls do not generate sales tax revenue for our state, county and cities and outsourcing only creates more wealth for the very few that is not reinvested and instead goes idle to fatten bank accounts an often overseas.. Stop the outsourcing and thrive and this policy should also be implemented at national level because “slavery is very very profitable” for the American corporations that take their manufacturing overseas.
    One more way to create local interest and bring more revenue to our area is thru events and probably more sports events. I have to really bring about one very positive event, at least for what I saw when the City of Palm Coast promoted lately in Palm Harbor by the Marina, the Half Marathon Race…400 to 450 competitors, family and friends showed up and I could hear the comments from most residing elsewhere, about the beauty of our area…That exposure sure will bring those attending back to visit. That event for sure should have been self sustained with the fees paid by those over 400 participants. Sponsor/invite, road and mountain bike cycling events as well as maybe even kayaking, sailing besides more running marathons as we count with sports stores and very good trainers of those sports in town that would be willing to organize them and keep the funding in Flagler County. We have more existing potential of skilled workers and professionals locally than what our officials think.
    Regarding your suggested questions my answers are:
    1) No, we should not remain a bedroom community only. But common sense development and avoidance of many bad deals on the heat of the rush imposed by the developer, Chamber or Enterprise special interest, like the Centex Palm Coast Resort was, that made our community loose 300 hotel jobs plus the gathering place for our community, should never be consider. We all still resent the deal with Palm Coast Data that cost us our excellent city Hall and “where are the 700 jobs?” Further more they lay off.

    2) With the current crisis status Palm Coast should wait and take a break on incurring further costly economic development, unless of course, that someone comes knocking our doors with serious and proven records and not false promises after the fact, like happened till now. Do not be fooled again by the local Chamber of Uncommerce Superman’s costly cape or their buddies Enterprise, always ready to demand more funds for nothing. I seriously doubt of any of their so called “documented reports and flawed statistics”. City should do their own resident and business question and answer report and find out really what is going on. Sure you learn more from our written complains here in Flagler Live.

    3) Yes, but only if government will act responsibly and honest with its tax paying constituents when a large business proposal is presented. Special interest from the Chamber, Enterprise and few Vip’s in control, is too strong with cover ups, always trying to shove these past blunders down our throats. City should have some of its professionals already on the payroll contacting potential job creating businesses to bring here and on a commission bases to start….Why have we been funding up front Enterprise and with our Mayor and or councilman seating on the board just to only bring blunders here so far. What a waste of our public monies and elected ones valuable time. Most of us and our elected ones and their appointed administrators came here from somewhere else lets start a campaign inviting our connections at home, businesses and friends to come and visit us like ITT did and many will stay. I was one of these cases and brought my business along and bought another one here, that employed 6 at its best time. I paid my own air fare, lodging and moving expenses then.

    a) The involvement of our city should be as indicated above. Utilize our own resources, advertising and some of our current city professionals on the payrol, to be rewarded with a good commission for the goal of attracting a job creating business, after is achieved. Also the idea to reward residents and small business for the same could promote it too.We can offer enough of our existing vacant industrial parks and or vacant buildings and or vacant stores. Have a dialog with those structures owners, to invest in adjusting the existing structures to what may be needed. Sure they will collaborate because beats having the current vacant space. Instead to suggest building new ones. Support and advertise with public funds the Town Center as has been done till now, should be shared also with others like Palm Harbor, former City Walk, European Village, as many of our residents work in those stores.

    b) incentives should be tax credits and after performance and promises achieved only and the condition that they will give the local suppliers documented preference in their contracts. Premises location help under the same requirements. Otherwise look what happen till now. City gave all that was asked in our pockets up front to Palm Coast Data lately, for nothing except the loss of our city hall that comes in handy to shove us the new one.

    4) Goal should be that newcomers hire locally as we sure have plenty of skilled labor around, though some already left looking for jobs elsewhere as per the empty eyesore houses show.
    Retraining is a common practice with employers. Otherwise, other than funding Enterprise, city should fund some retraining to be paid back after the individual gets his/her pay checks. Kind like a small temporary loan for success.

    5) “Those recent studies indicated” are believable depending “who did the research”. Now I honestly believe your findings regarding Jacksonville and 8.5 million in up front impact and other fees is totally out of line and to which coffers those funds go and for what use? Here with Town Center was not the same as our 5.8 million at least, we know was utilized to start their CRA and yet I don’t think we got refunded. The big box Walmart to come got paved in Old Kings road by our public utility funds owned by us, the city, Was not the Jacksonville case at all. Probably there, all the freebies we gave here, were expected to be paid as it should by the beneficiary, that if fair, is still too high. But Jacksonville can afford to ask for that, as they have an International Airport to offer, while in Flagler we have this Mickey Mouse one utilized as the playground for the wealthy stunt/maneuvering over our homes while annoying the heck out of our supposedly to be quiet and peaceful neighborhoods .

    6) NO, look at the recent blunders with the excuse of taking in account the big picture and a promising future. We got screwed big time. Other than asking us for money to bring more businesses they should help the local suppliers by stopping at least government outsourcing, of our public monies generated contracts. In this city the small businesses help each other by buying local same done by most of our residents and community organizations except the ones like Auditorium, Chamber that outsource as well and the latest even compete against their own members.

    7) No, as humanly possible. Although competition drives down prices for the consumer also “unfair competition funded with tax payers funds” bankrupt existing businesses and their workers, like have happened lately in Palm Coast. Lets attract and promote new, innovative and different businesses. We have enough of the same services around trying to survive. Do a realistic business research before engaging a new prospective. We did it 21 years ago and we are still fuctioning.

    8) No more CRA’s by now, until this economy improves at least and we need to be refunded the 5.800 million of public monies from the current one. Also stop using our tax dollars like I mention above, to just benefit Town Center and use it instead to promote our Center of Palm Coast Malls as well.

    9) the less government spends in attracting more corporations to settle in Palm Coast/Flagler and the more and interested one invest up front, the more reassurances of success, no brainstorm here. Our government did not help us to settle our small business here, why then we should be taxed to benefit the wealthy corporations to do so? These larger 20 years picture will never work in our current economy. Remember that this crisis practically started in 2007, loooong time ago and there are no signs of recovery yet. Lets start small again and grow proportianally to the meager resources available.

    10) No further funding beaurocratic entities. We fund enough and look at the results in some cases. Use the approach to attract businesses by paying a commission on a materialized and working deal only. Government efficient professionals as well as residents and small business owners should be rewarded after attracting a prospective that will generate jobs “after deal materialized and delivered its promise”

    Hope Mr. Meeker reads this one and my appreciation to Flagler Live being the only online organization with uncensored blogs In this County.

  8. Alex says:

    The communists in China, Russia and Eastern Europe tried the managed the economy.

    We know the result, their managed system collapsed. .

    Now they are trying with some success various form of capitalist, free trade system

    I am at loss why our fellow Flagler county citizens will do better with MANAGING our local economy..


  9. Frank Meeker says:

    Yes, Mr. Meeker is reading it all. Question 8 isn’t unclear. CRA’s growth is closely tied to tax incrimental financing. In other words, the tax dollars paid into the city was locked in at some amount (usually the taxable value of unimproved agricultural lands, hence really low dollar values) when the CRA was created. Palm Coast tax payers,…actually Flagler County tax payers as well, get no direct benefit in reducing ad velorum hits to their individual general fund from the increase in land value within the CRA. As the property increases in taxable value, the difference stays within the CRA. Yes there are secondary benefits to consider, but a direct shot in the arm of cash from Target, Olive Garden, Petsmart, etc to offset the need to raise taxes to provide services is not found within a designated CRA the way they are set up. That will only happen when the CRA is dissolved. Hence question 8. Should the tax payers contribute to setting something up in a CRA that will not help directly lower their taxes in the general fund over future years? Should we have some very strong beliefs that the secondary benefits will outweight the lack of direct benefits before committing tax payers funds.?


  10. Flagler Man says:

    Question 8:

    Thanks for the clarification. I personally feel that a project located in a CRA will still benefit the community by adding jobs and contributing funds towards the further improvement of the CRA. Yes, the monies could be used to help lower taxes but a CRA is typically set up to reinvest in areas in need of improvement. Ultimately, the CRA is part of the CIty so it shouldn’t be viewed as a competitor to the City. They are the same.

    Perhaps the CRA tool was misused in Palm Coast when designating farmland as a CRA. Certainly, the County got the short end of that stick but I am not sure that the economic development issue before us should be used as a springboard to dissolve CRAs.

  11. anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Meeker, I also appreciate the clarification as the CRA’s are a bit difficult to dilucidate.
    Was not my intention to completely dissolve CRA’s as incorrectly interpreted, but as I said temporarily/ moratorium on any potential considerd new CRA, as the only one we have in Palm Coast required 5.8 millions from the the city general fund aka public monies. As we are all aware of, we have budget strains allover and right now is not the proper time to fork any more millions for anything including and intended new city hall. I also understand that the CRA’s have already preset guidelines dictated by the state and I do not believe that those guidelines can be change to please any city or its resident tax payers expectations or demands. If we will be surrounded by CRA’s our property taxes will grow at a faster rate as those districs do not contribute to our ad valorem taxes but only to their CRA’s. Tax wise we will continuo paying increased taxes as just a bedroom community. We should have a moratorium in CRA’s at least until we will be out of this awful financial crisis, if ever. Big emergencies require tough meassures. New businesses eyeing to come to this county are not all looking to seat in a CRA district only, that was offered to them by the beneficiary developer back then when our economy was fine. As we can see most businesses within Town Center CRA created lower tier paid jobs, but are still jobs. In the furure after our economy will heal then we can plan more CRA’s to create more of the same jobs. Now we are dancing to a different tune. Why to go for big shopping when we no longer have money? Palm Coast needs to save its reserves for rainier days that for sure will come sooner than later, just by seeing our daily news.
    Just my personal view and suggestion and thank you for reading Mr. Meeker.

  12. palm coaster says:

    Too bad that this very Wednesday morning I happened to find out and read for the first time in the Palm Coast Observer that Palm Coast City Council have or will approved Manager Landon to hire a Daytona Beach counselor for up to 50,000/year (here comes the useless burocratic public monies waste again) to find out and help resolve our about 3,000 local businesses problems. One more costly and added red tape layer to incorrectly confront what will render very doubtful results. I myself have gone as a business owner to meetings organized by the local government and specifically the city of Palm Coast where “its buyer” was also present and the heads of some departments as well… and guest what? the issue of outsourcing our big public contracts were addressed. Guest more? …outsourcing was even worst as a pay back, afterwards. We local businesses know very well how to get ourselves in big trouble applying for loans from local banks that wether bounces us back, or charge such a high fees/interest that we move then better, to utilize our hard earned savings instead. Many of the businesses that went under was just over too much lending and not paying their loans while their sales were dramatically reduced.
    Mr. Landon does not need to suggest that we pay up to 50,000 in public grants for a so called expert advise that so far has not work in any of the free and also paid to the local Chamber Businesses Seminars and being held aaaaall the time. Have they work until now? The results show that HAVE NOT! .
    The City will save much more and help us all, asking their buyer why is he/she outsourcing our big contracts and this was asked before. Be very skeptical of the answers about being cheaper/compliance and other Bull. Creativity on the excuses for outsourcing, prevails.
    One positive idea would be to have the local business add the piece of equipment necessary to serve few costly contracts sent elsewhere due to lack of it, but with the government compromise that the contract will stand. Its a shame that local employers purchased costly equipment to serve those city contracts and after a short while the city buyer striped those contracts to sent them elsewhere over futile excuses, punishing the business owner with paying for his idle machine. That has been a common occurrence too. City does not need a $50,000/year to start finding out these flaws.
    Also when we had the big boys developing Town Center and many other developments around us, they always bring their crews, heavy equipment and all from Orlando, Jacksonville and God knows elsewhere. Meanwhile our local labor and heavy equipment contractors seats idle. As an example; if the taxpayer was good enough to lend the 5.8 million to start the Town Center CRA then, why the clause of local hiring and use suppliers first was not in place? C’mon Mr. Landon sharpen your pencil and no more excuses.
    Outsourcing of our large and small government contracts only benefits the special interest and favoritism for some type of benefit to the originator only, other than create local jobs and improve our local economy. We do not need any Rocket Scientist at 50 grand/year to show us that. Our city elected ones and some of our professional city administrators along with some of our local professional retirees with proper business background that will be more than eager to volunteer and help our local economic recovery and for a big Thank You and public recognition.

  13. anonymous says:

    Now here comes in the name of public forced funded of economic development for Flagler the first outrageous bill $14,000 for March 4 and 5 only approved by brain storm Mr. Coffey I guess or Commissioners approved too? Great give away of our hard earned dollars by the County Commissioners to some so called “facilitator fee” aka Rocket Science and probably outsourced as well. And if the “SUMMIT” will extend one more day the fee will be $22,000 of our hard earned tax dollars…Comes very easy to sprinkle around our funds by our elected ones.
    Please lets stop the thievery…and just stop outsourcing, to begin healing our economy and once we can stand again in our two feet and make some $$$, then call the financial gurus at thousands/ hour rate after the constituents approval. Jeez!

  14. Palm Coaster says:

    This incoming Economic Development Summit taxpayers forced funded and “facilitated” by a new illuminated Rocket Science and probably from somewhere else than Flagler I can see it being as in past ones as “you pay and shut up” costly charade making sure we all be introduced to the close neat elite pulling the strings”

  15. Flagler County Homesteader says:

    Real simple without all the sophisticated lingual. Palm Coast like all the rest of the U.S. Its a tough economy, CUT the spending and we don’t want or need more government. Unemployment is higher here than most everywhere else. Get us some jobs!! Flagler County, Bunnell & Palm Coast lets get together! Way to much separation and differences. Bunnell lets catch up. Palm Coast lets slow it down a little. Flagler County lets remember were all of one county!

  16. NortonSmitty says:

    Mr. Meeker, I think that you need to look at what you, the Chamber types, hell, what America itself defines as “Progress” for a local community such as ours. What makes me say this is your posting touting the so-called benefits we get from Target, Olive Garden and others and the boon they bring to our town. I’m not sure if you meant the benefits were going to go to go to the CRA or the general community. The CRA I’m not familiar with, but it probably was created to benefit the community at large, so I feel I am on pretty solid ground stating that introducing another publicly traded multi-national owned franchise will not benefit us at all. In fact, these are the reason that not only Palm Coast, but America itself is looking more like a third world Country every day.

    Just what is the Olive Garden as an example bringing to Flagler County? A few dozen minimum-wage plus tip jobs? Maybe a little work for some local A/C, Electrical and Plumbing maintenance workers, That’s it. They don’t buy one fucking thing locally, no food, not one napkin, no architects, no furniture, nothing. Almost all of the short term construction jobs were performed by Gypsy crews that travel the country building one after the other. Very little was contributed to the local economy during the construction. Even less will be spent here once it’s open.

    To be viable, this operation will have to generate a few hundred thousand in gross sales a week. Every cent will be spent by locals that earned there money here. Almost every penny will be sent to New York to be distributed across the globe to Investors, bankers and stockholders. A few crumbs will stay behind for us. Plus, once they open, more than a few local restaurants, who spend most of their gross locally, will fold. Not because the food or service is better (Hell No), and not even because of the economy of scale that lets them be more efficient and buy cheaper, but by the unfair advantage they have due to the bankroll their stock capitalization will give them. They are profitable before they even open their doors. I call it the Walgreens model, because this is where I first noticed it. It has been copied by many others, Home Depot, Pizza Hut, a lot of them. It works like this:

    A Walgreens opens in any town. When they open their doors, the prices are unbelievable! Drugs, food, detergents, everything! It’s so much cheaper that the old drug store we used all these years! How do they do it? Easy. The secret is, with all of their capital from their stock, they can afford to lose money and easily stay in business. For years if necessary, or at least until all of those local pain in the ass Mom & Pop drugstores go under trying to compete. Then when we have the market to ourselves, we will be the only game in town, we can raise prices sky high, and the Rubes won’t have an option. You need medicine, you gotta’ come to us.

    Multiply that by Home Depot and Hardware, Pizza Hut and Luigi’s, Walmart and the 5 and dime, and that giant sucking sound is all of the money that used to reside with you in your community on it’s way to New York and the Big Money investors and financiers. But if your kid works for us for ten years, we promise we will help contribute to his health insurance premiums. The important thing is, he’ll have a job. you’re lucky, If we could find a way to retail to you from Guatemala, we wouldn’t be so generous with our crumbs. You really gotta start buying more shit off the Internet.

    This is what you are so proud of, Mr Meeker? These meager crumbs to our hometown? We all thank you so much sir! May we have another? Pleeeaase!

  17. palm coaster says:

    A very realistic description of the types of jobs offered in the shops at Town Center presented here by Mr Norton Smitty. Thank you Sir. The reality of what our middle society and its workers are being pushed to accept as almost only alternative in some counties like Flagler is pathetic. A description of the Florida CRA’s can be found next in our local Go Toby and also in the second link:
    Once more thank you to Flagler Live allowing us to keep each other communicated and informed, as ignorance promotes slavery.

  18. NortonSmitty says:

    Mr. Meeker, Respectfully sir, I’m waiting. You said you are watching, whattya’ got? Defend your philosophy. I want you to do your best to convince me why the Chamber and the Republican point of view has to say to show me what I’m missing. Explain why the results you were so proud of at the beginning of this post won’t turn us, your neighbors, into camposino’s, serfs, proles, whatever term for whatever time you care to use. Losers, in a nutshell.

    Why will your goals you are so proud of not doom us to a lesser life than you and yours? So far in this era of Reaganomics, we have been trickled on, but you say not enough I guess, because our boats do not seem to be rising. That is those of us who have not had to sell their dinghy’s to survive. Explain please why we should not envy the Egyptians who, for however briefly, have seem to thrown off their yoke of servitude. In small words, please . Because you know how fucking stupid we are.

    As much as we have let your “Class” get away with the last thirty years, that is probably your only opinion you and I would agree on.

  19. palm coaster says:

    “The Muni Debt Bomb…and how to dismantle it.”

    A Florida CRA style disastrous/failed project in NJ that got stuck on the pockets of the taxpayers there too. This thievery is the reason for their budget shortfall today and not the fault of the public workers or their unions, like this new Tea Party Gop elected, Christie governor, wants to blame now and charge them for it.
    When I lived in NJ, I worked near this Meadowlands, the huge place was almost desolated all the time except Fridays and Saturdays when people will go to dine in several restaurants in that complex otherwise the rest of the time restaurants and shops were empty as well was unused all the huge infrastructure built in the surrounding area. Looked to me now like the Town Center here in Palm Coast just deserted most the time. Meadowlands was away from the residential areas and too far for most and out of the way except when coming and going from NY to NJ, just outside a mile or two west of the Lincoln Tunnel.
    Among those geniuses that dream up exotic financial instruments like credit default swaps, etc, there are surely some that can concoct a method by which all the players (especially the politicians) have some skin in the game, win or lose, whether they are still in office or not. They perhaps wouldn’t be as quick to sell some of their wacko ideas to the tax paying public which is unable to understand the financial intricacies even when they try

  20. Frank Meeker says:

    You must think all I have to do as a working stiff, local volunteer, husband, father and councilman is sit around reading websites and typing responses! I don’t live for chat rooms or email, I can assure you. My first comment to your recent post is,…whaaa? I have no idea what you’re trying to get accross. Sorry. As for proving my philosophy, don’t confuse the “type” of job brought in with the “impact” of a CRA. I was speaking of the money generated by a commercial business located within a CRA versus a business located outside of the CRA. Within the CRA, the incremental increase in taxes generated from any new business stays within the CRA to fund additional improvements. For the SR-100 CRA (for all of the improvements since the CRA was created), I think that amount is between 750-900K$ per year. That money stays within the CRA. If there was no CRA, that money would come to the general fund, and help fund additional improvments or help reduce the need to increase taxes. I might add that the county get’s screwed in this deal too. Thats all I’m saying. What kind of jobs locate within the CRA, whether the Dunkin Donuts type jobs, or General Electric manufacturing type jobs, is immaterial to the general discussion of a CRA’s impact on primary funding within any city or county general fund.

    Frank J. Meeker, City of Palm Coast
    District 2

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