Business Assistance

News Room

Voice Newsletter Overview - September 2015 - 09/28/2015

This issue features an article by Nathan Sparks, Executive Director, about the Governor's visit to Okaloosa County to tout two manufacturing companies. Click here to read the September 201...

Florida governor lauds Crestview company's expansion, job creation - 09/25/2015

Florida governor lauds Crestview company's expansion, job creation By BRIAN HUGHES | Crestview Bulletin Staff Writer      CRESTVIEW — The front sign may sa...

The Economic Development Council along with Okaloosa County and the State of Florida are committed to providing business assistance programs that will make it easier for companies to expand and develop within our county. The EDC is the conduit for these incentives between the local and state government and our community businesses.

Due to Okaloosa's prestige business climate, high quality of life, and positive economic factors it sells itself, the Fort Walton Beach/Crestview/Destin Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), aka Okaloosa County, has been ranked in the top-ten repetitively by national business and family publications. The EDC is responsible for coordinating the state business incentive programs through Enterprise Florida, Inc., the State’s legislatively designated economic development organization, and the Governor’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

The following set of tools that might be available to assist your company:

Brownfield Site

The Fort Walton Beach Commerce & Technology Park and portions of Hollywood Blvd in Fort Walton Beach has been designated as Brownfield Sites. The area may be challenged with expansion or redevelopment due to actual or perceived environmental contamination. This designation assists companies with redevelopment and job creation in the designated area. Brownfield redevelopment projects create new jobs and tax revenues, improve the environment, revitalize neighborhoods, increase property values, eliminate environmental inequities, and enhance the overall quality of life.

Enterprise Zone

An Enterprise Zone is a specified geographic area targeted for economic revitalization. Enterprise zones encourage economic growth and investment in distressed areas by offering tax advantages and incentives to businesses locating or expanding within the zone boundaries while also providing jobs. The Okaloosa-Crestview Enterprise Zone is approximately 4.63 square miles located in the northern section of Okaloosa County along portions of Highway 85, partially in the City of Crestview, partially in unincorporated Okaloosa County.

Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption (EDATE)

In March 2014, this county administered incentive, which provides a case-by-case tax exemption for real and/or tangible personal property improvements, sunseted. However, this local option tax incentive was presented to the voters on the August 26, 2014 ballot. Also on August ballot, residents of the City of Destin and the City of Fort Walton Beach voted on allowing City Council to provide this temporary business incentive at the municipal level.The EDATE referendum was overwhelmingly supported by the community! Since the August 2014 election, the Crestview City Council decided to pursue a similar program on the November 4, 2014 ballot. This referendum also passed overwhelmingly by Crestview residents by 78.98%!
Okaloosa County remains competitive by not only providing this tool county-wide but by providing the tool in the City of Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Crestview!

This incentive is reserved for new or expanding businesses. Up to 100% of the assessed value for all improvements to real property made by or for use of a new business may be exempted. An exemption of the assessed value of all added up improvements to real property and the net increase of tangible personal property is also allowed for expanding businesses. The business applying must pay higher than the average wage and hire at least 25 additional employees as a result of the improvements. If a company manufactures, processes, compounds, fabricates, or produces for sale items of tangible personal property at a fixed location and which comprises an industrial or manufacturing plant, the minimum job creation is 10 additional employees.

For additional information on the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, please visit our dedicated EDATE webpage here.

Industry Recruitment Retention Expansion Fund

Funds for the disproportionately affected counties. New applications for grant funding will be accepted starting September 1, 2015.  The reopened IRREF program will run until June 30, 2016.
Program Highlights: $5 million in total funding is available; $1 million cap per project award; Required ROI:  1.5; Capital investment is required; Minimum creation of 10 net new jobs in rural areas; 30 job minimum elsewhere; Limited to the 8 disproportionately affected counties; June 30, 2016 application deadline. View the application online

Economic Development Transportation Fund

The EDTF is available to local governments in need of financial assistance for transportation projects such as roads, taxiways or traffic signals. The local government body, with the assistance of the EDC, applies on behalf of a company that is considering an expansion or location of facilities and that has an existing or anticipated transportation problem. An EDTF award must be an inducement to the company to locate, remain and/or expand in the local government's jurisdiction and can provide up to $7,000 per job created or retained to a specific project. 
Note: Okaloosa County has been one of the most successful counties in Florida to benefit from the EDTF Grant Program. In the last 13 years, local companies, on behalf of Okaloosa County and the EDC, have received over $12,000,000 in EDTF grants.

Export Finance

The Florida Export Finance Corporation makes available pre-and post-shipment capital to small-and -medium-sized Okaloosa County exporters.

Florida Capital Access Plus Program (CAP+)

Cap+ makes financing available to manufacturers and technology-related R&D companies with fewer than 100 employees. The program allows a lender to make a loan which it otherwise might not make.

Industrial Revenue Bonds

IRB financing is available to assist manufacturers with property acquisition, construction, equipment and certain soft costs. The maximum for an IRB issue is $10 million.

Northwest Florida Industry Research Matching Grants Program

The NWFL-IRMG Program purpose is to encourage collaborations between members of targeted industries and University of West Florida (UWF) faculty, staff, and students, thus enhancing the UWF’s theoretical and applied research profiles and providing industry members with opportunities to utilize UWF’s research capabilities. The program will support the identification and development of intellectual property that may hold the potential for commercialization, and emphasis will be placed on projects that accomplish that goal. Awards sizes are anticipated to range from $10,000 to $100,000, with an estimated total of $1.5 million allocated to the program, which will remain open until the maximum commitment level is reached (no deadline). Though projects may be from any discipline, Proposals are particularly encouraged in the industries of Aerospace, Aviation, Information Technologies and Services, Manufacturing Design, Marine Technologies, Transportation Systems, Financial Services, Medical Products, Microelectronics, Software Development, Medical Technologies, Telecommunications. Read the NWFL-IRMG Program Fact Sheet Here

Qualified Defense and Space Contractor Tax Refund Program (QDSC)

The Qualified Defense and Space Contractor Tax Refund Program provides for a tax refund of up to $5,000 per job created or saved in Okaloosa County through the conversion of defense jobs to civilian production, the acquisition of a new defense contract, or the consolidation of a defense contract.

Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program (QTI)

The Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program is an economic development tool designed to create high value-added jobs and encourage the growth of corporate headquarters and other targeted high value industries. It is designed to encourage the expansion of existing businesses or the location of new-to-Okaloosa County businesses. The program provides tax refunds on corporate income, sales, ad valorem intangible personal property, insurance premium and certain other taxes. Pre-approved applicants may receive up to $8,000 per new job created.
Average Wage Requirements for Incentives 2015

Research and Development Sales Tax Exemptions

The State of Florida offers a sales tax exemption on the labor component of research and development expenditures. The Florida Development Finance Corporation, FDFC, focuses on providing access to long-term, fixed-rate debt. The FDFC acts as a special development finance authority working in conjunction with public agencies and local governments through inter-local agreements. It is a partnership of the commercial banking industry and the State of Florida.

Machinery and Equipment Sales Tax Exemptions

Florida allows the purchase of certain manufacturing machinery and equipment (MME) to qualify for an exemption from pay the state sales/use tax. This incentive is available for new or existing manufacturers. For new manufacturers, the machinery and equipment must have been purchased, or a purchase agreement made, prior to the date the business first begins to produce  For existing Florida manufacturers wanting to expand, the purchases of machinery and equipment must increase production by at least 5%. *Beginning April 30, 2014, there will be no "productive output" requirement. (See below)

Sales and Use Tax Exemption or Industrial Machinery and Equipment 

The state-wide Sales and Use Tax Exemption for Purchases of Industrial Machinery and Equipment is scheduled to start April 30, 2014 and will expire on April 30, 2017. This is a successful initiative that Governor Rick Scott took on to eliminate the current sales tax on manufacturing machinery and equipment which allows Florida’s existing manufacturers to take advantage of reduced costs to expand and make additional capital investments. This exemption is available for purchases of industrial machinery and equipment used at fixed location in Florida by an eligible manufacturing business that will manufacture, process, compound, or produce for sale items of tangible personal property. The exemption also includes parts and accessories for the industrial machinery and equipment if they are purchased before the date the machinery and equipment are placed in service. To learn whether or not your company qualifies for the exemption, please contact the EDC or visit  http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/tips/tip13a01-06.html

Small Business Administration Loans

The Small Business Administration's traditional 504 and 7(a) programs are available for new and expanding businesses.

Tax-Exempt Financing

Enterprise Bonds for industry is a private corporation that provides tax-exempt financing for small manufacturers. Financing may be used for the purchase of land, buildings and capital equipment. Loans of $500,000 to $2.5 million are available.

FloridaFlex (Formerly Quick Response Training)

Formerly called Quick Response Training, FloridaFlex is highly successful training grant program powered by CareerSource Florida that helps businesses grow and compete and employees increase their earnings potential. With FloridaFlex, businesses can expect greater flexibility, a simplified and expedited application process and an array of funding options to support companies of all sizes. Companies looking to sharpen their competitive edge through employee training can benefit. While the program's primary focus is new or expanding businesses that produce exportable goods or services, many businesses would find value in the array of options available under FloridaFlex. 

Incumbent Worker Training Grant

Provides funding to upgrade the skills for existing employees. Local qualifying companies have benefited from this training program that allows them to increase the skills of employees who are already familiar with the company's products, services and growing needs.

Florida Jobs and Benefits Partnerships

At no cost, CareerSource Okaloosa Walton, a state employment agency, will recruit, screen, test and refer applicants for hiring consideration.

Permit Streamlining

To make it easier for companies to do business, Okaloosa County and the State of Florida have simplified and streamlined permitting. Through the Expedited Permit Review Process, companies that will make a significant economic impact can obtain expedited review of all needed state and regional permit applications and, at the option of the local government, local development permits or orders and comprehensive plan amendments.

TeCMEN Incumbent Worker Training

To support and promote the expansion of STEM industries and maintaining a technologically skilled workforce the EDC created an Incumbent Worker Training Program through its TeCMEN organization. The EDC partnered with CareerSource Okaloosa Walton and the University of West Florida to target training in the industries of Aviation, Aerospace, Defense and National Security; Health Sciences and Human Performance Enhancement; Renewable Energy and the Environment; Transportation, Logistics Services and International Trade; Information Technology; and Research and Engineering. To participate in this training program, your organization or company must invest in the EDC at the Corporate Level. 

Workforce Development

The State of Florida's private/public partnership, Enterprise Florida Inc., and CareerSource (a workforce development board), coordinates and evaluates job training, adult education, vocational education, employment placement and other workforce programs administered by multiple state and local agencies. The Economic Development Council is a member of CareerSource Okaloosa Walton and helps coordinate these services between the state and local agencies and the companies receiving these benefits.
* For additional information on business programs contact Caroline McCoy at caroline@florida-edc.org  or 850-362-6467.
Business Investment Programs l Additional Incentives


Okaloosa County is host to a wide array of businesses and industries. From Tourism to Aerospace & Defense, our diversity reflects th...
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