Expiration Date Looms For Florida Enterprise Zones

Apr 7, 2015

The Urban Core Enterprise Zone consists of 20 square miles of Downtown Jacksonville and surrounding neighborhoods
Credit www.flickr.com, creative commons

A state-sponsored job-creation program that serves two large swaths of Jacksonville is due to expire this year — and may not be renewed. The future of Florida’s “enterprise zones” is uncertain.

Twenty square miles of Jacksonville’s urban core are classified as an “enterprise zone,” along with a strip of land along Philips Highway. The zone program is designed to revitalize blighted communities by offering tax incentives to businesses.

Robert Weissert, senior vice president of Florida Taxwatch said, “Government can’t create investment in neighborhoods. But government can encourage private investment in neighborhoods.”

A Florida government report in January found the zones were “generally underperforming” statewide, and there is resistance in the House to renew the program which expires this year.

Weissert says the the state shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Taxwatch has made recommendations on how to improve the program.

“It’s certainly something that has benefited the community of Jacksonville and seeing it extended would be a benefit,” Weissert said.

One bill being considered would replace the state enterprise zone program with a local version.

Photo credit: Downtown Jacksonville Skyline by Michel is used under CC BY 2.0.