Enterprise Zone incentives remain open until December 31

Even though the Florida Legislature decided to end the Sunshine State's Enterprize Zone program for communities like Immokalee, small businesses can still apply – Enterprise Zone incentives remain open until December 31. 

Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Executive Director Bradley Muckell will explain how the valuable tax-break program will work in its waning months when the CRA citizens advisory committee meets August 19 at 8:30 a.m. at CareerSource Southwest Florida, 750 South Fifth Street in Immokalee (the One-Stop Shop). The meeting is open to the public. 

Businesses in Immokalee can still take advantage of the program's tax breaks and other incentives as long as applications are submitted by December 31. 

"Applications that are post marked on or before December 31, 2015 will be processed by (the Florida Department of Revenue)," explained Burt Von Hoff, special programs manager for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity's Division of Strategic Business Development.  

Created by Florida lawmakers of a past era, the program was designed to be a ticket out of poverty for small businesses seeking to find a firm financial footing in today’s marketplace. In Immokalee alone, its Enterprise Zone provided over $200,000 in tax incentives and other assistance to nearly 20 businesses over the past decade.  You can read here about all the incentives available through the sunsetting program

The 2015 Florida Legislature failed to renew the program past its December sunset date.

A replacement bill – signed into law June 16 by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and now Chapter 2015-221, Laws of Florida – preserves state incentives for certain businesses which are already taking advantage of incentive agreements with the state and currently located within enterprise zones. The bill defines the term “eligible business” to mean a business that entered into a contract with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) between January 1, 2012, and July 1, 2015, for some businesses located in an enterprise zone and the (still) current set of incentives will remain available for businesses applying in the current year. 

The set of programs now scheduled to replace – or intended by the Legislature to replace – the Enterprise Zone program includes programs like the Community Contribution Tax Credit Program (extended through 2018) which expands eligibility to include projects designed to provide housing opportunities for persons with special needs and provides $21.4 million in annual funding for projects that provide homeownership opportunities for low-income and very-low-income households or housing opportunities for persons with special needs and $3.5 million for all other projects.

The replacement bill also allows projects which are required to take place in a designated Enterprise Zone to continue to qualify for the Community Contribution Tax Credit after the Enterprise Zone program sunsets by stating that a project may qualify if it is in an area that was in an Enterprise Zone as of May 1, 2015.

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