Mayor applauds City Council for backing legislation to reduce wait time
Mayor Alvin Brown’s plan to overhaul economic development policy is now official. The mayor signed legislation (2012-213) Wednesday creating a more efficient process for companies to collaborate with City Hall for development, relocation or expansion in Jacksonville. The bill-signing followed a unanimous vote by City Council to approve the measure Tuesday night.
“This is about investing in our future and making Jacksonville the most competitive city it can be at time that cities all over America are fighting for jobs,” said the mayor. “Our streamlined policy empowers the City of Jacksonville to work more effectively with the private sector for jobs and opportunity. I commend City Council for its hard work and dedication to economic development.”
The legislation reduces the number of City Council readings required as city officials consider public investment to promote economic development. Per the new policy, packages with a financial impact to the city of less than $300,000 may be approved by Council resolution after one reading. Those packages that anticipate a financial impact of more than $300,000 may be approved in two readings.
The policy marks a major effort to compete with other markets. The approval process for business deals with Jacksonville city government has been taking sometimes five times as long as comparable deals in competing cities. Project packages would continue to take shape through mechanisms such as the Qualified Target Industry and Recapturing Enhanced Value programs, which offer tax refunds to help companies grow employment and produce higher payrolls for the Jacksonville workforce.
“The JAX Chamber Board of Directors voted to support this legislation, which will help attract and grow businesses in Jacksonville, creating new investment and jobs in the community,” said Tom Van Berkel, 2012 JAX Chamber chair, and chairman and CEO of super regional insurance carrier The Main Street America Group. “After much hard work, we are excited about this major step that will shorten the economic development project review and approval process and make Jacksonville more competitive with other cities when closing high-value economic development projects.”
The policy grows from Mayor Brown’s plan to transition the city’s economic development functions to replace the previous commissioner system of oversight to a streamlined Office of Economic Development in which a chief Economic Development Officer is appointed by the mayor and approved by Council to serve the public in a day-to-day executive capacity.
The mayor’s plans had support of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce and gained unanimous approval from both Houses of the Florida Legislature before Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill – CS/HB 1253 – granting the mayor and City Council the authority to move forward.