At the end of the November 8, 2022, ballot is a decision awaiting Manatee County voters that is too important to overlook. It is the Economic Development Tax Referendum to continue a program that helps our community compete for corporate investment and higher wage jobs.
The Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption (EDATE) is a temporary tax exemption set up by the Florida Legislature. In 2013, Manatee County voters supported allowing the Manatee Board of County Commissioners to establish and implement the program locally.
EDATE is a vital economic development tool that every other county in our region – and most in Florida – offer to encourage corporate investment. This is not cash up front. EDATE allows the county to exempt up to 100 percent of property taxes for up to 10 years for qualified companies that build or expand their facilities and create new local jobs. The companies are only exempt from property taxes set by the county. These do not include school or other taxes levied. No one’s taxes increase as a result of this program.
EDATE is a transparent process. Applications for the program come before the Board of County Commissioners, and the public can review and comment before abatement is granted.
In the time that EDATE has been in effect in Manatee County, two companies received approval for county property tax abatement: Allied New Technologies and Power Design Resources. The return on investment to Manatee County is a combined capital investment of more than $94.6 million and 116 new jobs paying higher than average wages.
While Manatee County does offer performance-based incentives to businesses that invest here and create higher-wage jobs, the absence of EDATE – a key tool for relocating and expanding companies – was glaring as we competed with other locations.
As the lead economic development organization serving the nine communities that make up the Bradenton area, the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. talks with site selectors and business executives on a regular basis. We experience firsthand the positive reactions of location decision-makers who learn about the incredible business and community assets available here.
A site selection consultant we highly respect and speak with regularly is Gray Swoope, president and CEO of VisionFirst Advisors. Swoope previously served as Florida’s Secretary of Commerce and led Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development arm.
According to Swoope, “With an ever-shifting global marketplace, Manatee County must offer business solutions to grow the local economy and maintain the quality of place residents and visitors enjoy. Solutions like the temporary tax exemption provide Manatee County the opportunity to help businesses grow and expand, creating new high-wage jobs for residents and millions of dollars of capital investment in the community. The county has a proven reputation for smart investments and strong partnerships between government and business. As Southwest Florida rebuilds from Hurricane Ian, these partnerships and programs are more important than ever.”
As Manatee County voters consider this ballot initiative, we urge you not to turn back the clock. We need EDATE to maintain our competitive edge. Help keep Manatee County in the game. Vote “yes” for EDATE, the final referendum on the ballot, on November 8.