FEDC Inside Track for legislative affairs: Governor Crist Signs major Economic Development package, Three related bills

May 21, 2009

Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed four economic development-related bills into law today, May 21, 2009, one of which is a major economic development package that strengthens programs related to the Florida Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development and Enterprise Florida.

The bills, which also will be ceremonially signed in various locations throughout Florida, are expected to help statewide job creation and economic growth.

A press release outlining each bill issued by the Office of the Governor is reprinted below.


Should you have any questions or comments, please contact Tracy Mayernick, tmayernick@cftlaw.com.


Governor Crist Signs Legislation Encouraging Economic Growth

Ceremonial signings to take place in Ocala, St. Augustine and Naples

TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today, continuing his ongoing focus on strengthening Florida’s economy, signed four economic-development bills that will help create jobs, encourage economic growth and improve the standard of living for Florida’s families.

“Today, we are helping reignite Florida’s economy through legislation that empowers businesses and creates new opportunities for families to be successful in their communities and their careers,” said Governor Crist. “I congratulate all the members of the Florida Legislature on their bipartisan efforts to approve these bills that will benefit Floridians during these challenging economic times.”

After signing the bills in Tallahassee, Governor Crist will highlight the legislation during ceremonial bill signings in Ocala, St. Augustine and Naples. In Ocala, Governor Crist will visit Lockheed Martin, a major employer in Marion County. Defense-related spending contributes $52 billion in economic impact in Florida. In St. Augustine, Governor Crist will visit a Reality Check First Coast seminar, where community leaders and residents are considering strategies to enhance the region’s future economy. In Naples, Governor Crist will visit Arthrex, one of 1,021 medical device companies in the state, helping make Florida the second largest medical device sector in the U.S.

The bills signed today by Governor Crist are the following:

House Bill 227, Impact Fees

Sponsored by Representative Gary Aubuchon and Senator Mike Haridopolos

House Bill 227 encourages economic growth by removing excess fees charged to property owners completing development projects. The bill places the burden of proof on local governments to demonstrate impact fees on commercial and residential development projects meet the requirements of Florida law. In addition, the bill requires Florida courts to analyze challenges made to impact fees without using a standard that favors either side in a case.

House Bill 485, Fast Track Economic Stimulus for Small Businesses

Sponsored by Representative Will Weatherford and Senator Mike Fasano

House Bill 485 creates the New Markets Development Program, providing tax incentives for businesses investing in low-income rural and urban locations. Based on a federal program, the new Florida program is expected to stimulate job growth, raise household incomes and improve the standard of living for low-income Florida families.

Under the program, the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development will allocate tax credits to Qualified Community Development Entities that meet state requirements. According to the Washington Economics Group, $97.5 million in Florida New Markets Development tax credits will lead to a total of $364 million in low income community investments, creating 1,600 jobs in the first year of the program and up to 2,900 jobs annually 10 years later.

In addition, the program is projected to raise total personal income in Florida by $228 million per year over 10 years, and increase Florida’s gross domestic product by $633 million per year over that same period. The economic activity generated through the program is projected to generate a total of $174 million in fiscal revenues to the state throughout the entirety of the program.

House Bill 7031, Economic Development

Sponsored by Representative Jennifer Carroll and Senator Rudy Garcia and the Senate Commerce Committee

House Bill 7031 amends Florida laws relating to businesses and economic development as follows:

  • Modernizes Florida’s outdated business classification coding system, making it consistent with federally-recognized standard codes and allowing for more efficient collection of industrial and economic data.
  • Allows non-residents who purchase a boat in Florida, or bring a boat into Florida for repair or alteration, to remain in the state 180 days before becoming liable for the sales and use tax. Currently, the tax applies after 90 days. Allowing boat owners and their guests to remain in Florida waters will stimulate Florida’s marine industry, as well as stimulate businesses that support the marine industry.
  • Strengthens economic development programs within the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED) to further encourage economic growth and job creation:
    • Streamlines the approval process of incentives available through Enterprise Florida Inc. and OTTED, allowing them to be completed faster than they are now.
    • Gives incentive-receiving businesses that agree to create jobs in Florida more time to create those jobs if they are experiencing the effects of the economic downturn.  The change gives businesses the incentive to continue investing capital and creating jobs in Florida while also extending their commitments to stay and grow in Florida and delaying the State’s payment of refunds.
    • Provides additional oversight of the Innovation Incentive Program, which has recruited state-of-the-art research institutes such as Max Planck, Draper Laboratories and Torrey Pines.  The changes will increase transparency through additional reporting and measurement and ensure that participating businesses are continuing to invest in Florida by requiring future participants to return a portion of their royalty revenues to the state.
  • Expands the definition of rural community to include counties with a population of 125,000 or less that neighbors a county with a population of 75,000 or less.  This measure will allow Highlands County to be reclassified as a rural county,and Flagler and Putnam counties to remain classified as rural counties.  Florida’s existing 32 rural counties are eligible for economic development programs that help increase their ability to attract projects that create jobs and facilitate investment.
  • Expands the Florida Opportunity Fund, sponsored by Enterprise Florida Inc., to allow for direct investments, including loans to individual Florida business and infrastructure projects.  This investment will increase the potential to create new businesses and jobs that are based on high-growth technologies and services.

House Bill 127, Enterprise Zones

Sponsored by Representative Charles Chestnut and Senator Evelyn Lynn

While in Ocala, Governor Crist will also sign House Bill 127.  The legislation gives the City of Ocala the authorization to apply for and receive enterprise zone status.  The city must submit the application to the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade, and Economic Development by December 31, 2009.  The enterprise zone will be in effect until December 31, 2015.

There are currently 56 enterprise zones in Florida.  Businesses in enterprise zones receive the following incentives:

  • Job Tax Credit
  • Business Equipment Sales Tax Refund
  • Building Materials Sales Tax Refund
  • Sales Tax Exemption on Electrical Energy
  • Enterprise Zone Property Tax Credit