‘Something that we need’ City moves forward with proposed tax incentive ordinance

Published: Friday, May 9, 2014 at 06:07 PM.

Economic development and diversity has been the battle cry for the city of Destin for the past few years, and after a unanimous vote Monday night, they have moved closer to adopting a new way to draw businesses to the city.

“This is a critical tool in the city’s tool kit,” City Manager Maryann Ustick told her colleagues.

Following suit with Okaloosa County , the city of Destin looks to adopt an ordinance that would allow city leaders to approve an economic development ad valorem tax exemption (EDATE) program.

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.

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