By Christopher Curry | The Gainesville Sun
On Thursday, Gainesville city commissioners unanimously approved two incentive programs intended to entice high-tech companies to locate in one of the city's four community redevelopment areas.
Both incentives would come from the property tax revenues generated in a CRA.
One incentive will reimburse firms for as much as 50 percent of their eligible relocation costs — with a cap of $50,000 for firms bringing in 31 employees or more.
The second program will entail a payout to companies that bring in at least five high-wage jobs. Depending on the number of jobs created and the salary, a firm could be eligible for a maximum incentive of $250,000.
Companies that bring in jobs paying at least 150 percent of the average wage will receive $3,000 per job. Companies that bring in jobs paying at least 200 percent of the average wage would receive $5,000 per job. A firm could receive no more than $50,000 over a two-year period and could apply for the program as many as five times for the potential total of $250,000.
Commissioner Scherwin Henry said that while the incentives' focus is on Innovation Square along Southwest Second Avenue, he hoped it also would draw firms to the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center and, eventually, to the eastside business park that county government has long planned but not yet seen built on the current fairgrounds site.
Brent Christensen, president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, said the incentives represent “new tools in our economic tool box” to draw companies and keep those spawned in local incubators in the city.
Homeless advocate Pat Fitzpatrick offered a different take. Fitzpatrick described the payment of government money to private firms as an example of “corporate welfare” and the advancement of “socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.”
Under state law, local governments may establish a CRA in a geographic area that meets statutory criteria for “blight” or “slum.”
After the CRA is established, revenues from increases in property values stay in the district and go toward areas that may include infrastructure improvements, beautification projects and, in some cases, incentives for economic development.
Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or email@example.com.