Economic development and diversity has been the battle cry for the city of
“This is a critical tool in the city’s tool kit,” City Manager Maryann Ustick told her colleagues.
Following suit with
By adopting an EDATE program, the city would be able to provide a temporary local incentive to businesses that are looking to relocate to Destin or expand their current operations in the city. The tax exemption can range from 1-100 percent for a duration of 1-10 years, Development Manager Steve Schmidt told city leaders.
A potential business must fill out an application, which is reviewed on a case-by-case basis that looks at the businesses economic impact, diversification, and job creation in accordance with the city’s designated target industries and state statutes.
The city’s targeted industries are: professional, scientific and technology services, engineering, financial, information technology and businesses services, light manufacturing, and education, life and health sciences.
To qualify, a business would also have to meet specific requirements pertaining to job creation. This includes the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs for a business that produces items of tangible value, which pays an average wage in that is 110 percent above the average wage in the area. For an office job, there must be at least 50 full-time jobs created. If the project is an expansion, it must meet the previous criteria, as long as it increases operations on a site co-located with a commercial or industrial operation owned by the same business/organization.
City leaders were given an example of a project called “Talking Parents,” which is an information technology company.
The company currently employs 30 people, but looks to add 20 new jobs with an average wage of $56,500 (159 percent of the Okaloosa average wage). The project would involve a $1.4 million capital investment. The county incentive requested was an ad valorem tax exemption of $24,000 (over 10 years). During this time, the company would contribute more than $69,000 in other taxes and has a return on investment of 266 percent, according to the
With the ordinance passing on first reading Monday night, it would still have to be approved on second reading before it could be placed on the city’s books. This item would also have to go before the city’s taxpayers as a referendum item.
This item will be up for discussion when the city council meets again May 19.
As a proponent of economic development and diversity, Destin Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody told city leaders the proposed ordinance was a step in the right direction.
“This is something that we need in Destin, it helps create jobs,” he said. “All of our competition has this out there. If we’ve got this as bait on the hook, maybe we can get some bites.”