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Local Officials Introduce Entrepreneurs To Tax Incentives

Ben Pingree speaking at the Working In The Zone workshop.
Nick Evans

Leon County officials invited local entrepreneurs to participate in a workshop Monday aimed at clarifying incentive zones.  There are a number of programs aimed at revitalizing specific areas—you just need to know who to ask.

There’s a twenty square mile area in Tallahassee classified as an enterprise zone.  It’s mostly made up of the Frenchtown and Southside areas, but it also sneaks out to the airport.  Much of that space is classified as a Community Redevelopment Area or CRA, as well.  Both designations offer incentives, but Ben Pingree of the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce says the programs are very different.

“CRA is a wonderful program that really re-infuses property tax dollars within a certain area, the enterprise zone is a state level program that can help infuse state dollars into a local area,” Pingree says.  “But all of these play together, and they all—in many cases they’re taken advantage of by the same people, for the benefit of raising the tide for our entire community.”

Where CRAs operate at the municipal level and involve property tax rebates, enterprise zones use sales tax.  Businesses and residents in an enterprise zone can get rebates for things like building materials, and there are similar benfits for hiring new staff members.  Workshop attendee SiTerra Wallace says she’s ready to take advantage of the incentives.

“Oh for sure, for sure, because I’m in the process of looking for an office,” Wallace says.  “So to be able to do that effectively I’m going to start looking in some of these zones so that I can capitalize, to be honest with you, on that process.”

But entrepreneurs hoping to take advantage of both benefits have a deadline.  Florida’s enterprise zone program expires at the end of the year, and an attempt to extend it faltered in this year’s legislative session.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.