Hayward pushes EDATE renewal

October 30, 2012

On Nov. 6, Pensacola voters will be asked to renew the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption. Mayor Ashton Hayward has sent out this viewpoint in favor of renewal.

City EDATE renewal last on the ballot but first tool for jobs
By Ashton Hayward

This fall, City of Pensacola voters will find at the end of their ballots an extension of the City’s EDATE, or Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption. The county-wide EDATE was renewed by voters in January, and now City voters are being asked to extend the City’s program. We’re working hard to attract new businesses and jobs, and I hope that citizens will vote to renew this vital economic development incentive.

In order to truly compete for jobs and investment, we need the right tools. The EDATE incentive is one of the most valuable economic development tools that the City uses to attract new businesses and help existing businesses expand. EDATE, or the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, allows local governments to exempt up to 100% of a company’s property taxes for up to 10 years as an incentive to build or expand facilities and add new jobs for our citizens.

As Mayor, creating economic opportunity is my top priority. The role of government is not to create jobs, but rather to create an environment where businesses want to locate and have the ability to grow and thrive. By providing safe and attractive neighborhoods, low taxes, and a business-friendly environment, Pensacola can compete. New jobs and investment will help us secure a greater share of the future for local families and more opportunities for our children and grandchildren. Our young people shouldn’t have to move away to find work.

Using EDATE, the City and Escambia County have attracted mayor employers like General Electric, Navy Federal, and Woodlands Medical Specialists. In the fall of 2000, General Electric was looking for a place to locate its newly-formed GE Generators operation. GE was looking at Pensacola along with other locations in the United States, Europe, and Asia. We used EDATE to bring GE and initially 200 new jobs to Pensacola in January 2001. EDATE also helped Escambia County to land Navy Federal, which has paid off by creating thousands of jobs for our families, and their Heritage Oaks campus continues to grow. Other companies that have come to our area with help from EDATE include Pegasus Laboratories, Advanced Elastomer Systems (AES), and International Paper.

The EDATE incentive also encourages existing businesses to expand, purchase new equipment and create new jobs. The program encourages diversification in the business community. It is not intended to create competition for existing businesses.

If voters do not extend the EDATE program, the City of Pensacola will have an even harder time competing with Mobile, Panama City, and other cities in the Southeast for new jobs and investment. We will continue to watch as our best and brightest young people leave Pensacola for better opportunities in other communities. I’m no longer willing to accept the status quo. As I’ve said, I believe that it is time for Pensacola to elevate our efforts and truly compete. We must keep this critical tool in place.

Whether you’re voting early, absentee, or on November 6, please consider voting YES on extending the EDATE incentive.

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  • joe November 4, 2012 at 3:43 am

    These types of tax incentives are offered throughout the state and neighboring states as well.
    All prospective companies have to do to decide not to locate in Escambia county is to look at the schools performance and , of course, City and county politics.

    The ones that get as far as a visit to the area realize they can live/educate their children in Santa Rosa county, so there is hope for economic development

  • dot October 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    mark – bet we exempt more here because we have less cash and other real incentives to offer.

    epenn – do you know 100% of what? value of improvements to the property. say you spend $100K improving land and building valued at $1M. you don’t get exemption on the $1M, only the $100K. county exemption on that? less than $800/year? seems a pretty good return if they create even one new job.

  • Charles Wood October 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    It doesn’t matter where these projects go in Escambia County, without the ability to offer tax abatements the citizens of escambia county and the city might as well kiss economic development, manufacturing and other living wage jobs goodbye!

  • EPenn October 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Its called corporate welfare…Have to have it, yeah right… 100% exemptions for 10 years…

  • Mark Taylor October 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I’m all about having the right tools for the job, and certainly all about spurring on economic development, small business, and JOBS; however all of the examples listed in this press release from the Mayor with the exception of the Woodlands appear to be companies located outside of the City of Pensacola limits?

    Can we please ask for a list some hard details for City specific EDATE projects? “Year” – “Company Name” – “Amount of Taxes Exempted” – “Number of Jobs Created”.

    The article from the PNJ made mention that Escambia County significantly exempts more property taxes through EDATE than any other county in Florida. I supported the County extension, even had a sign in front of my office, and I’ll likely support the City extension, but I worry if we’re exempting more tax then any other Florida county yet we’ve been one of the slowest growing/negatively growing Cities in Florida, are we sure that EDATE is the right Economic Growth “Basket” to have our eggs in?

    How are these other Municipalities growing and thriving and Exempting so much less tax then we are as part of their “Economic Plan”?