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County to Consider Incentives for Ave Maria Business Development

Ave Maria has been called many things over the years. After Tuesday's meeting of the Board of County Commissioners the label "Innovation Zone" might be added to the list.

Commissioners will hear a proposal from the county's office of business and economic development to provide funds to attract and expand businesses that have strong future growth prospects, pay high wages and are not overly susceptible to regional economic swings.

The method for providing funding to these businesses was established through a county ordinance passed in 2010. It generates revenue through a "tax increment financing plan" that places incremental local property tax revenue for a period of time into a fund to help create economic opportunities.

In Ave Maria's case, the money would start being collected in the 2016 tax year and continue through 2021 with funds being available in 2017. All payments would need to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners and in the proposal to the board no projection was made as to how much money would be collected when. The balance in the fund is capped at $1 million in any one year, but since there might be withdrawals the total potential amount awarded is not known.

Not all types of businesses would be eligible. The Florida statute that enables the creation of economic development areas like the Innovation Zones excludes retail businesses, hotels, restaurants and natural resource industries like mining or oil and gas exploration.

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