The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has approved Winter Haven’s Enterprise Zone designation with an effective date of today — May 1, 2012. The Enterprise Zone represents incentives for any business considering relocation within the Winter Haven Enterprize Zone. The map below shows the boundaries of the zone and and overview of some of the local incentives follows.
City Commitments of Fiscal & Regulatory Incentives
The following information was taken from the City’s application for the Enterprise Zone that was approved today.
Even though the City has significant positive economic drivers, the downturn in the national/state/local economy required the City to broaden its economic development focus and address the need for tax base expansion/diversification and the need for job creation. Notable development projects include:
CSX is proposing the first Integrated Logistics Center in the southeastern United States in Winter Haven, FL. Notable benefits of the ILC:
Total annual payroll of the ILC at build out will be $282 million
1,400 construction jobs to be created
3 million sq. ft. of warehouse space & 1.5 million sq. ft. of industrial use & .5 million of office space over a 10 year build-out
$900 Million in tax revenues over a 10 year period
Merlin Entertainments Group – the world’s second largest attraction company – opened its second U.S. Legoland park on the former Cypress Gardens property. The park will generate over 1,000 full and part-time positions and will see over 2.0 million visitors annually
Downtown Winter Haven features a growing technology hub and is home to the Inland Data and Fiber Park – a four block area offering safe data storage and emergency back-up facilities to both government and corporate clients from throughout Florida and both national and international interests. The area is home to 26 technology companies employing more than 230 people. Its 300,000 square feet of space are expected to grow to 350,000 by 2012 and employment is project to grow to 500 jobs
In 2011, a partnership between the City and the local business community resulted in the preparation of the Winter Haven Economic Development Action Plan (Plan). The Plan contains the City Commission’s goals related to economic development. Among these goals, the Commission established an economic opportunity goal to “ensure that sufficient workforce talent is available to meet the needs of existing and new businesses.” To attain this goal, a series of sub goals were created. Workforce development, improved communication, education, recruitment and partnerships were among the more common themes referenced in the sub goals.
As the City of Winter Haven increases its commitment and focus on economic development, there becomes a necessary shift within the current internal structure and organizational priorities. Coordinating economic development efforts has traditionally been the role of outside agencies like the Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Central Florida Development Council. The Enterprise Zone program will drive the City’s goal of improving its workforce, creating improved job opportunities and meeting its established economic development and revitalization goals.
In certifying this Plan for Winter Haven’s Enterprise Zone, the Winter Haven City Commission has also provided for the following incentives in support of the Zone.
Business Tax Receipt Fees – A 50% reduction of Business Tax Receipt fees for a period of 5 years for all new businesses locating within the nominated area.
Fast Track Permitting, Site Plan Review – Any new business proposing to locate or expand in the nominated area will be tagged and given a priority during the City’s review processes. It is anticipated that this will result in a 30% reduction in review time.
Impact Fee Waivers and Reductions – In 2007, the City created the Core Improvement Area which provides for the waiver of City and County non-utility impact fees for development within the nominated area. Depending on the type of project, this can result in a significant cost savings and represents a considerable incentive to locate in this area. The City will evaluate the merits of this program and will determine if other development related fees can be included in this program.
Development Regulation Waivers – In order to encourage development with the downtown area, certain development regulations have been eliminated for projects within the immediate downtown area. Notable regulations that have been eliminated are the requirement to provide on-site vehicular parking, the requirement to provide on-site storm water ponds, and the requirement to install perimeter landscaping buffering. This allows for a larger percentage of the site to be developed with vertical improvements. The City will evaluate the impacts of extending these waivers into all or a portion of the nominated area.
Incentive Programs – The City Commission has established several incentive programs to encourage the expansion or relocation of businesses to the City’s two CRA areas. The Downtown Incentive Fund program targets businesses primarily engaged in education, communications, research and development, technology, or a corporate headquarters with over 10 full-time employees. The expansion or relocation must result in full-time equivalent positions which pay 125 percent of Polk County’s annual average wage. Incentives include the rebate of certain utility taxes as well as grants to assist with start up costs. The City will evaluate the impact of increasing funding for this program as well as looking for other opportunities to provide financial incentives to encourage business expansion or relocation into the nominated area.
In conjunction with the Agency, and the Winter Haven Economic Development Agency, the City is committed to enacting and maintaining local fiscal and regulatory incentives within the nominated area. These incentives are designed to support the revitalization goals established for the Zone. Furthermore, the City Commission is committed to providing staff and resources necessary to implement and manage the Enterprise Zone program.