Gainesville Commission approves incentive program for businesses to locate in CRA

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 chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

 

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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