About the Report
The Florida Enterprise Zone program was created in 1982 explicitly to revitalize and redevelop distressed blighted areas in the state of Florida. Its primary goal is different from other economic development programs in the state, which focus on inducing business expansion within or relocation to the state. There are several benefits that the program offers, including:
The program is one of the few economic development programs available to small businesses and retailers.
- Many companies located in Enterprise Zones provide access to food and medications to Floridians who would otherwise live in “food deserts.
- The cost of the program to the state is relatively low.
Based on these benefits, the Florida Legislature should revise and extend the program, and take steps to increase the efficacy and taxpayer benefit of the program statewide by considering the following recommendations:
- Marketing efforts should focus on attracting companies that grow faster and create more jobs: small and medium-sized businesses, specifically second stage companies;
- The Legislature should require all zones to measure and report their progress, to be periodically recertified based on established, written, and empirical criteria, and to be dissolved if inactive or ineffective;
- Local authorities should be given some flexibility to best utilize the Enterprise Zone program within their designated community, in consultation with and subject to approval of the state oversight entity;
- The program should be more transparent: Florida taxpayers should be able to easily access all distributed incentives;
- The program’s marketing efforts should be improved and the application process simplified;
- The program could be made more attractive by promoting its coupling with other state and federal programs;
- Residency requirements for tax incentives should be waived for some Enterprise Zones; and
- A tiered system could be created with different requirements and thresholds for small and large businesses.