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.