Commissioners struggle with incentives to attract new business

There was no debate that economic incentives are needed in Collier County. However, what they would look like and when they will come into force turned into a contentious vote on ad valorem tax exemptions to spur business in the area. Commissioners Fred Coyle, Jim Coletta and Tom Henning vetoed a motion by Georgia Hiller to place a referendum on the Spring 2012 ballot regarding the exemptions meant to encourage investment and job growth. Donna Fiala supported the motion, with the caveat that she “would never vote for it anyway.”

“We’re getting blown out of the water all around us because we don’t have the vehicle to really entice businesses around here,” said Henning.

The board then voted unanimously to seek recommendations from the community about what economic incentives they would like to see, before reconsidering what could go on the ballot in 2012.

“It is illogical in my opinion to go out and start talking about one segment of that overall plan and putting it on the ballot, only to find that in a month or two months or three months we have several more questions to put on the ballot,” said Coyle.

Earlier in the day, commissioners indefinitely postponed a vote that had been set for Tuesday on changes to the county’s economic incentives ordinance.

Opponents of the changes, which proposed waivers to the rules for how the county decides which businesses get the incentives, have said they loosen the rules too much.

Naples-based medical device manufacturer Arthrex had applied for the property tax break to expand its business but has since dropped the application and has applied instead for impact fee relief.

The Economic Development Council of Collier County asked commissioners by email Monday afternoon to delay Tuesday’s vote.

In the email, EDC President Tammie Nemecek asked that the EDC and the county work together over the next couple months to “modify the programs to meet the current needs of the business community and the goals of the county for job creation.”

The county and the EDC have a “couple viable options” to bring to commissioners “in the near future,” Nemecek wrote in her email.

Hiller says the rebates amount to property tax exemptions that require a referendum under Florida law.

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Comments » 1

AlZichella writes:

Now you know why we can't attract new businesses. Forget about diversification of the Economy here until elected officials finally understand what every successful community already knows: If you want to attract or stimulate any sector of the economy, you must incentivize it. Or..at least not punish it.if a sterling example of a corporate citizen, (such as Arthrex) does not qualify for impact fee relief, no one ever will. And the Commissioners should all resign if they fail to grant it.

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