This week, Florida Tax Watch was given the opportunity to present to the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee on Enterprise Zones. It continues to be a very contentious issue as we move through this first week of Session. Next week there are meetings scheduled to talk about economic development programs in general, the importance of funding the entire toolkit and especially the business campaign. Take a moment and reach out to your legislators to tell them how important funding the toolkit and Enterprise Zones are to economic development.
Today is the last day to register for the conference at deep discount pricing. The conference site is up so keep referring back to it as we build out the agenda!
3802 Spectrum Blvd.
2015 FEDC Conference - Registration is OPEN!
Join economic developers from around Florida to discuss the most important issues in economic development today. Florida is well-positioned for a resurgence in job growth and prosperity. This conference will highlight the Pioneers, Leaders, Innovators, Entrepreneurs, and Catalysts that will drive Florida’s economic future. Learn and experience how Florida is Leading the Way.
TODAY IS THE LAST DAY FOR SUPER EARLY BIRD PRICING!
Members $210 | Non-Members $310
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The online reservation system for the Walt Disney Swan Resort is NOW OPEN. Standard room rates are $199 and upgrades are available. You may make your reservation online or by calling 1-888-828-8850.
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National Employment and Unemployment Estimates for February
The national unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in February, down 0.2 percentage point from the January rate of 5.7 percent and down 1.2 percentage points from 6.7 percent a year ago. Total nonagricultural employment was 141,126,000 in February 2015, an increase of 295,000 jobs (+0.2 percent) over the month and an increase of 3,296,000 jobs (+2.4 percent) over the year.”
Summary, Commissioner’s Statement and Statistics Downloads »
Scott Calls On 'Florida Exceptionalism' To Tout Agenda
Calling on something he termed “Florida exceptionalism,” Gov. Rick Scott used the annual State of the State address Tuesday to try to reinvigorate his legislative agenda after a difficult opening to his second term. During the 21-minute speech, Scott pushed lawmakers to adopt his proposals to slash taxes, hold down the cost of higher education and boost public education spending to the highest per-student level in state history.
“Now that our economy is thriving, it’s time to make major investments in education,” Scott said. “Let’s not squander our budget surpluses on special interests. Our budget should absolutely reflect the principles we campaigned on. Or in other words, we should do exactly what we told voters we would do.”
Scott did not unveil new proposals in the speech which, after the introductions, was interrupted almost 40 times for applause. But as he has done in the past, the governor introduced an overarching theme to tie together his agenda. He used “dream” or some form of the word 19 times in the address. “Florida’s long been a place where dreams come true. But this is not just our past, it’s our future. … We want more people to chase their dreams in the great state of Florida,” he said.
The annual speech also gave Scott a chance to change the subject after a bruising two months that featured questions about the forced resignation of the state’s top law-enforcement officer and speculation that Scott’s influence might be waning as lawmakers begin looking past the term-limited governor. Some of Scott’s goals enjoy broad support, including his call to increase education funding. There is also agreement, at least among the Republicans who control the Legislature, on the need for further tax cuts, though the amount of those cuts and which taxes are slashed might differ.
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Florida’s Economy Ranks No. 7 Overall
Business Insider noted that Florida’s non-farm payrolls grew by 3 percent between December 2013 and December 2014, the fifth-highest growth rate in the country. The state’s housing market recovery also was the fifth-best among the states, with housing prices rising 7.85 percent between third-quarter 2013 and third-quarter 2014. And Florida’s state government surplus of $15 billion made it the third-highest in the country. Florida was the top-ranked state in the Southeast, besting No. 13, Georgia.
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Top 5 Industries in Florida: Which Parts of the Economy Are Strongest?
Luring people with sunshine and beaches hasn’t been the only thing on Florida’s economic agenda over the past few years. Industries in Florida have continued to strengthen their foothold in aerospace, life sciences, manufacturing, homeland security, and information technology.
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Johnson & Johnson deal Could Put Hillsborough "On the Map "
Hillsborough County’s efforts to build a bioscience cluster and attract name-brand corporations got a major lift Wednesday morning, when the Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a $2.1 million local incentive package for Johnson & Johnson Services. The company, a subsidiary of health care giant Johnson & Johnson Inc. (NYSE: JNJ), has proposed $23.5 million in capital investment for a project that would create 700 jobs, with an average wage of $75,000. The firm is considering several sites in Hillsborough County, Tampa and Temple Terrace, as well as other locations in other states.
“We have created the synergies and critical mass that’s providing the framework for significant strategic growth in our biosciences cluster,” Hagan said. “With Bristol-Myers Squibb coming here and Johnson & Johnson considering expansion, there’s absolutely no doubt that we’ve raised the awareness throughout the industry that Hillsborough County is a serious bioscience contender.” Top companies go to top regions, said Commission Chair Sandy Murman. “Our region is becoming quite the place to go to. The ‘open for business’ sign is out there,” Murman said.
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SkyBridge Capital investment Firm Expanding to Palm Beach County
An investment company that advises and manages $12.5 billion in assets announced Wednesday that it is joining other financial companies in setting up an office in Palm Beach County. SkyBridge Capital, a 10-year-old global investment firm with headquarters in New York and a branch in Zurich, Switzerland, said it is opening a third outlet — in Palm Beach Gardens — that will serve clients throughout the southeastern U.S.
SkyBridge was attracted to South Florida because of relatively low taxes, economical office space and its large number of affluent residents, Nolte said. Already, many of Skybridge’s clients live here at least part of the year, said Ray Nolte, co-managing partner and chief investment officer of SkyBridge Capital., who himself has a home in Jupiter. Florida “is leading the nation in economic and job growth, offers attractive tax policies and is one of the top regions from which we are raising assets. We expect it to be a steady growth market for the firm,” said Nolte.
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Air safety specialist Aero Sekur announces expansion in Pensacola
Aero Sekur, specialist in helicopter lift-raft and flotation systems, announces a relocation and expansion of its US subsidiary from Parsippany, New Jersey to larger premises in Pensacola, Florida. The move provides the aviation safety and protection systems designer with a larger facility and closer geographic links to many of the US helicopter operators in the Gulf of Mexico. At 8,000 sq. ft., the company’s new American administration offices, maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) and spare parts buildings are three times the size of its previous premises.
Escambia County and Pensacola officials express a welcoming atmosphere for the company. “I’m looking forward to Aero Sekur joining our community,” said Commissioner Lumon May, whose district will serve as home to the company’s US subsidiary. “Businesses like Aero Sekur that create great jobs and make new investments have choices about where they locate. We’re pleased that they have chosen Escambia County.” John Hutchinson, president of the Community Economic Development Association (CEDA) said Aero Sekur’s decision is another indication that the aerospace industry has its eyes on Northwest Florida. “This industry has huge growth potential and we are winning important projects that will demonstrate to other companies that they can be successful in our region. We must continue to make economic development a priority.” Read More »
Jacksonville Unemployment Rate May Drop Below 5 percent for First Time Since Recession
Jacksonville’s unemployment rate could fall below 5 percent this spring for the first time in seven years, and other economic indicators are also pointing up, according to the University of North Florida’s Local Economic Indicators Project. The economic data group’s latest quarterly newsletter, LEIPLINE, is forecasting the jobless rate to fall below 5 percent perhaps as early as May, which would be the first time unemployment fell that low since the 2007-09 recession. LEIP’s index of leading economic indicators for Northeast Florida was down in December but was “up significantly” overall in 2014. “It was up three points last year, which is way above normal,” Mason said. The strong economic indicators point to a strengthening economy in the spring, LEIPLINE said.
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Miami Executive Airport Designated 'Drone Hub'
Miami-Dade County designated the Miami Executive Airport a “drone and robotic hub” Tuesday, the Miami Herald reports. County commissioners voted unanimously to establish the area around the Tamiami airport as the West End Innovation District, mostly as a marketing push to attract businesses, according to the Herald. The idea is to test drones in uninhabited areas near the Everglades, Commissioner Juan C. Zapata said. Very few businesses are allowed to operate drones in the U.S. under current Federal Aviation Administration rules.
The FAA recently proposed looser regulations, which will likely be finalized in 2016. But South Florida already has its share of drone companies. The new regulations would bring 3,000 new jobs and $632 million in economic impact to Florida by 2017, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Florida’s drone industry would be the fourth-largest in the country, after California, Washington and Texas, the organization indicates in a report.
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Green Lumens relocates headquarters to Research Park at Florida Atlantic University
Green Lumens LLC announced today the relocation of its corporate headquarters and research and development facility to the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University. Green Lumens is an OEM manufacturer of high reliability commercial and industrial LED lighting products, providing turnkey retrofit solutions for property owners to reduce energy consumption and operating expenses, while benefiting the environment. The company’s latest breakthroughs in LED technology have been featured on Discovery Channel’s “Innovations” hosted by Ed Begley Jr. and will appear on FOX business news later this month.
“We selected the Research Park because of its synergy with FAU,” said Neil Glachman, founder & chairman of Green Lumens. “The Park’s high tech focus puts us right in the middle of a hotbed of talented companies and resources not available anywhere else in the area. We are eager to work with FAU faculty on joint development projects, and we’re planning to establish a formal internship program for FAU students that will identify candidates who can become full time employees upon graduation.”
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FDEP Receives Record-Breaking Number of VCTC Applications, Demonstrates Brownfield Program Success
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (“FDEP”) received a new record-breaking number of Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credit (“VCTC”) applications for the 2014 cycle for voluntary environmental cleanup work performed at Brownfield redevelopment sites and other eligible sites in Florida. The total application amount for the 2014 calendar year is the highest VCTC annual amount ever received by FDEP, demonstrating both strong participation in the State of Florida’s Brownfield and VCTC programs and the challenges posed by the large VCTC backlog. If the applications are approved, the total backlog of VCTCs approved but not yet issued due to current statutory funding levels could reach over $21 million at this time, which translates to an approximate 4-year wait for tax credit issuance.
“The continued trend of increased requests for voluntary cleanup tax credits demonstrates the success of the Florida Brownfields program in remediating contamination and bringing economic redevelopment to Florida’s Brownfield areas,” explained Nadia Locke, President of the Florida Brownfields Association (“FBA”). Locke explained that “the FBA’s highest legislative priority in 2015 is to bring immediate relief to the VCTC backlog and to increase future funding allocations so that the Brownfield program continues to provide job creation, increased capital investment, site rehabilitation and quality of life enhancement. Last week FBA members met with legislators who were very interested and supportive of resolving the backlog issue.”
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