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 3 is here, part 4 here.
What exactly is economic development?
Economic development is the process by which the County attracts commercial (sales and service) and industrial (clean manufacturing) businesses to an area. Economic development encourages business owners and entrepreneurs to invest in our community, creating jobs. The focus is not on the quantity of jobs, but the quality of jobs in our community and the support given to the employers. The goal of economic development is to improve the standard of living and quality of life; improving our community by encouraging business investment, higher wage jobs and more skilled employment, and an infrastructure that will support this.
What’s in it for me?
No matter your age, paying lower taxes for services from the City and County makes sense. Spreading the cost of services over a larger base of commercial/industrial businesses stabilizes taxes.
There are tons of empty office buildings and retail space available. WHY do we need more space built?
Industrial space has special zoning requirements arid structural needs such as high ceilings, reinforced floors, and large open areas that accommodate machinery and equipment. These smaller spaces cannot accommodate these types of businesses. However, vendors and suppliers will be needed to support these businesses and will utilize the smaller spaces that are currently available.
Don’t “incentives” just attract businesses that don’t have enough money to get started on their own?
To protect taxpayers, incentive agreements are based on job creation performance. Rarely are incentives offered upfront. No jobs, no incentives. Business attraction is very competitive; they level the playing field for smaller communities to compete with larger metropolitan areas. Oftentimes, these incentives “close the deal.”
Why now? The economy is so bad. No one wants to think about an added tax!
There is never a perfect time to ask for a tax increase. Our community is struggling. We have had the highest unemployment in the State for over two years, neighbors are losing their homes, amid families are concerned about the future. The community must implement a plan that aggressively pursues jobs and increases our competitiveness by investing in the tools essential to economic development—infrastructure, incentives, and vocational training. Once this initiative is passed, we will have the same tools and advantages larger communities have in maintaining their economies and protecting their quality of life.
Who will administer this fund and how will projects be chosen?
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 [Board of County Commissioners] and respective city for ultimate approval; utilizing complete transparency and full accountability, and reporting as defined within our “Benchmarks and Accountability” document.
The Board of County Commissioners, a body elected by the voters, will be responsible for administering the fund (which will begin being collected in 2012) and decisions concerning expenditures. They will seek the advice of the community through Ad Hoc Committees as well as organizations such as Enterprise Flagler and the Chamber of Commerce when considering expenditures. This fund can only be used for economic development.
Isn’t this government competing with private sector developers?
No. This will enable us to complement and enhance what private developers have already built in our County, making them more attractive to companies who provide services for those companies and employees in these larger facilities. In addition, this will enable the County to partner in some instances with private developers with a proven track record of recruiting quality employers, and better utilize some of the funding generated through this initiative in multiple projects over an extended period of time versus a single short-term project. This funding will enable private developers’ projects to become more successful
as a result of industry and business brought into the area; creating a domino effect.
Isn’t the tax just to fund Enterprise Flagler?
Enterprise Flagler will receive no direct funding from this initiative. All revenue from the initiative will go to the Board of County Commission (BOCC) to fund capital improvements, incentives and infrastructure. The BOCC will decide if any funding is warranted and allocated to Enterprise Flagler.
Our issue is unemployment. We need jobs!
This initiatives primary goal is to create jobs; whether through expanding established local businesses, retaining essential employers or attracting new companies to our community.
To attract new companies, Flagler County must have the modem infrastructure, such as existing industrial buildings, to attract large employers. Currently, 80% of State job leads do not consider Flagler County due to these issues. Providing the infrastructure and capital improvements will help to attract high wage/high skill jobs.