GOVERNOR CRIST APPLAUDS FLORIDA JOBS BILL, ENHANCING JOB GROWTH, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND LONG-TERM ECONOMIC EXPANSION in FLORIDA

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~ Will strengthen Florida’s economy and improve the long-term quality of life for every Floridian ~
 
TALLAHASSEE – Governor Charlie Crist today applauded the Florida Legislature for passing Senate Bill 1752. In response to the Governor’s economic policy and budget recommendations, Florida’s Jobs Bill provides strategic investments in a number of priority areas which will trigger job growth, business development and ensure long-term economic expansion for Floridians.
 
“The recovery and long-term health of Florida’s economy is closely tied to the ability to attract and retain high-wage jobs and innovative industries in Florida,” said Governor Crist. “I applaud the Florida Legislature for supporting a bill that provides high-wage jobs for Floridians and aids in the diversification of Florida’s economy.”
 
Four priorities of the Jobs Bill include funding for the State’s economic development incentive programs, assistance to small businesses, calculated support for Florida’s space business sector, critical relief for the unemployed and rural communities, and targeted assistance for Florida’s innovative film and entertainment industry.
 
“The recently passed Jobs for Florida bill is visionary,” said Chris Hart, interim director of the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED). “This legislation provides the right mix of economic development incentive tools specifically designed to meet the unique needs of Florida’s existing economy and  industry base, as well as the promise that exists for Florida’s workforce and entrepreneurs in today’s global economy and emerging industries of tomorrow.”
 
Business Expansion & Relocation
 
To support Florida’s efforts at attracting and retaining globally competitive industries, Senate Bill 1752 expands the use of Florida’s business incentives and provides $22 million to support economic development.
 
oQuick Action Closing Fund (QAC), $15 million to ensure the state is able to provide the means necessary to attract new, and expand existing, high-impact businesses. In Fiscal Year 2008-09, QAC projects led to the creation/retention of 25,610 jobs at an average annual wage of $51,503.
oQualified Target Industry Tax Refund (QTI), To enhance the incentives provided through this program, additional per-job tax refunds will be provided for high-impact businesses, for businesses receiving exceptional support from a local government, and for businesses that increase exports of goods through Florida seaports or airports.  In Fiscal Year 2008-09, QTI projects created 8,382 new jobs at an average annual wage of $51,257.
oLocal Government Matching Grants, $3 million to provide a 50-percent match of expenditures by local governments used to attract and retain businesses in Florida. In an effort to spur job creation and retention, areas with pervasive poverty or extreme economic distress will be given higher priority. Individual grants may be up to $50,000.
oDefense Infrastructure Grants (DIG), $4 million to local communities to support projects associated with Florida’s military installations, which provide immediate investment resulting in jobs and economic activity while ensuring Florida’s bases remain open and mission ready.  Florida’s defense economy contributes approximately $60 billion to Florida’s gross state product and employs nearly 725,000 Floridians.
oHigh Impact Performance Incentive Grant (HIPI), In an effort to position Florida for success in a highly competitive and innovative global economy where every state and nation seeks to attract and retain high-impact industries, the eligibility threshold for potential grant recipients is lowered from a $100 million investment and 100 jobs for high impact sector businesses, to a cumulative investment in the state of at least $50 million and create at least 50 new full-time jobs. The qualifying amount required for research and development facilities also changes from $75 million and 75 jobs, to at least $25 million and 25 new full time jobs.
 
Small Business Assistance
 
Florida is home to more than 1.8 million small businesses, accounting for nearly 60 percent of new jobs created in the state. Small businesses have been dramatically impacted by current economic conditions, facing layoffs and a loss of resources. As such, it is imperative they receive technical assistance to spur growth. $11.9 million in assistance to small businesses will be provided through:
 
oResearch Commercialization Matching Grants, $3 million in grants administered by the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research to assist small businesses seeking federal research and development funding. These state matching grants will help Florida small businesses compete with other states for research and development funds available from federal agencies through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) programs. Phase I grant applicants may receive up to $50,000 per award, with Phase II grants up to $250,000. All applicants must have received the federal grant award for that phase in order to qualify for the grant.
oEconomic Gardening, $2 million to expand the Governor’s Economic Gardening Pilot Program, which identifies qualified companies (between 10 and 50 employees) and helps them expand by offering specific services such as market information, leadership development, and assistance in digital media applications. The Florida Economic Gardening Institute at the University of Central Florida was created as a result of the pilot program. The new funds will help local communities create their own programs to provide technical assistance to businesses in their areas. By utilizing the expertise and resources of the Economic Gardening Institute, local programs can more easily offer assistance tailored to the specific needs in their geographic region.
oExport Finance Capital, $4.9 million in access to capital to the Florida Export Finance Corporation to assist Florida small businesses in completing their short-term export sales transactions. Greater than 95 percent of Florida’s exporters are small to medium-sized businesses, with a vast majority requiring assistance to complete their sales.
oState University Research Commercialization Assistance Grant Program, $2 million to increase commercialization of products and technologies that emerge from research taking place at state universities in Florida. The Florida Technology, Research, and Scholarship Board, which exists within the Board of Governors of the State University System in Florida, provides a funding option to make research projects a reality. While available only to researchers whose projects are taking place within the State University Systems, these grants provide budding business owners with the resources to take an idea and bring it to the marketplace using Florida’s workforce.
 
Empowering Space Coast Industry
 
Florida’s aviation and aerospace industry is home to approximately 400 companies, employing 31,700 workers at average wages of more than $71,300.In response to the national policy decision to end the space shuttle and Constellation programs, and the inherent impact this will have on Florida’s workforce and industries, it is necessary to provide new resources to develop facilities and sites needed by new commercial space enterprises and to ensure that capital is available to assist in expansion financing. As such, $19.8 million will be provided to Space Florida to diversify and expand commercial aerospace in the state through:
 
oSpace Industry Business Development, Infrastructure and Business Financing, $10 million to Space Florida for establishing an internal source of financing and investment funds in order to provide additional opportunities for expanding space businesses, and to support sustained industry growth for the Space Coast workforce.
oWorkforce Development Assistance, $3.2 million to Space Florida for workforce development assistance through a partnership among state and local agencies, academic institutions and space businesses, and by providing access to aerospace facilities and technologies.
oExpanded Space Business Services, $3 million to allow for the growth and recruitment of new space-based enterprises by using Space Florida’s resources to secure federal programs and processes to support job retention, identify and secure new contract and grant opportunities for Florida businesses, and aggressively engage company and federal officials to site new program elements including research, design, testing, and manufacturing work packages in Florida.
oSpace Infrastructure Assistance, $3.6 million to address infrastructure projects to assist in the continued development of Florida’s aerospace industry and management of state-of-the-art facilities for space businesses that will create high-technology, high-wage jobs.
oManufacturing and Spaceport Investment Incentive, This new incentive program will encourage capital investment and job creation in manufacturing and spaceport activities in the state by providing tax refunds to businesses making significant investment in Florida.
 
Relief to Unemployed Workers and Assistance to Distressed and Rural Communities
 
Florida is facing historic unemployment conditions, which have impacted growth in areas across the state. In order for Florida to maintain positive economic growth, it is critical to put Floridians back to work and provide adequate support for struggling communities. As such, $11 million in funding will be provided to:
 
oJobs for the Unemployed Tax Credit, $10 million in tax credits provided to any new or existing qualified targeted industry business that hires a new employee who is unemployed. Businesses are eligible for a $1,000-tax credit per each qualified employee. The tax-credit cap is $5 million in FY 2011-12 and $5 million in FY 2012-13 to be distributed by OTTED on a first-come, first-served basis. A “qualified employee” is defined as any person who meets all of the following criteria:
§         Has been out of work at least 30 days prior to being hired by the eligible business.
§         Was hired by the eligible business on or after July 1, 2010, and had not previously been employed by the business.
§         Works for the business on a regular, full-time basis for an average of at least 36 hours per week and for at least 12 months before the eligible business owner files for the tax credit.
§         Has not been previously claimed by the eligible business for a tax credit under this program.
oRural Communities Assistance, $1 million to support Florida’s rural communities in their attempts to fund capital investments in infrastructure and diversify their economies, which spur job creation, capital investment, and better equip them to access federal programs of support.
oLocal Government Distressed Area Matching Grant Program, This program will match 50 percent of expenditures by local governments to attract businesses in Florida.  Special attention will be given to areas with pervasive poverty, high unemployment levels, and economic distress.
 
Florida’s Film Industry
 
The film and entertainment industry is a high-wage, value-added sector of Florida’s economy, creating high paid jobs for production units and extending economic benefits into other industries such as restaurants, lodging, retail, construction, and tourism, bolstering job creation and generating revenue for an increased number of residents and businesses.  A recent independent study on Florida’s entertainment industry reported that in 2007, the industry generated $17.9 billion in Gross State Product with a total statewide fiscal impact of $29 billion, and directly employing 102,000 Floridians with an average wage of $57,700.
 
oEntertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program, A five-year, $242 million transferable tax credit incentive program for Florida’s Film and Entertainment industry will induce over $1.2 billion in direct spending by entertainment production companies into Florida’s economy. Tax credits are awarded after certified projects complete production and submit a final report.  The total amount of tax credits authorized under this bill is $53.5 million for Fiscal Years 2010-11, $74.5 million for Fiscal Years 2011-12 and $38 million for each of Fiscal Years 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15.
 
“We have been inundated with calls from projects that are interested in coming to Florida contingent on the passage of this monumental legislation,” said State Film Commissioner Lucia Fishburne.  “I thank the Governor, Legislators, and the many industry members and organizations that have worked diligently over the last two years to put Florida back on the map for entertainment production.”