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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Greg Rawls of Enterprise Flagler: "Vote Yes for Jobs"

This is a guest blog post submitted by Greg Rawls, Executive Director of Enterprise Flagler.

On November 2, 2010 Flagler County voters will have the opportunity to vote yes for future jobs and economic development in Flagler County.

A local economic investment initiative has been approved for inclusion on November’s ballot, giving voters the opportunity to decide. For an investment of what amounts to pennies a day, the struggling community could finally see some progress in economic development.

A successful referendum will specifically address the high unemployment rate in Flagler County and the uneven tax burden currently carried by all residents. All funds raised by this initiative will be dedicated specifically to economic development.

Nate McLaughlin, County Commissioner Elect, says:
Job creation was the number one issue in my campaign, and I will continue the cause once in office. Even though these are hard times for our community, it is imperative to the economic success and viability of Flagler County that we stand up and take initiative. Investing in economic development will give us the resources to even the playing field between Flagler County and competing communities. Simply, we need to get in the game of job creation, and in turn lessen the tax burden on our residential property owners, and enhance our quality of life.

Economic development in the modern age is a highly competitive process. Communities offer incentives and ready-built sites for large employers to relocate. Although Flagler County has the employment base, it suffers in the competitive process due to its lack of a dedicated funding source that allows the area to attract desirable jobs.

Greg Rawls, Executive Director for Enterprise Flagler says:
Time and time again we see potential jobs go to other communities because they have sweetened the pot to a point that we simply cannot match without a dedicated funding source. We are not talking about giving away the farm, but fostering opportunities to make a business’ transition into Flagler County as seamless and fast as possible. Any future employment incentive offered will be tied to the number of quality jobs created and hired from our unemployed workforce.

Another benefit of the economic development referendum is its potential to shift the local tax burden from the current residential tax base to a future mix of residential, commercial and industrial entities that share in the cost of maintaining the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Flagler County.

County Commissioner Barbara Revels says:
Right now 86 percent of the tax burden is on the shoulders of the Flagler County residential homeowner. We must diversify our community’s tax burden by the creation of more commercial and industrial tax payers. This will create a diversity of jobs – again improving and supporting a healthy and vibrant community. Unfortunately right now the costs of local services are borne mostly by an overburdened residential community.

The crux of this initiative is to give Flagler County the tools larger communities have to compete for projects.

Approximately, 80% of project leads require existing facilities. There has been little significant industrial development in the past 30 years and nothing that meets this demand,” added Rawls. “Currently, less than 1% of land use in Flagler County is dedicated to industrial use. I believe only Monroe County (Key West) has a lower usage rate.

Charles Ericksen, a retired Palm Coast resident, says:
I was inclined to say NO on the face of it, but after being invited to express my doubts to the committee, and learning the actual details, the more inclined I am to say YES. I urge people to get the facts before making a decision.

The dedicated funds will be distributed after approval by the Board of the County Commissioners. Recommendations would come from a committee that has representation from all municipalities as well as private sector leaders. The funds will be allocated with at least 60% going towards capital projects, at least 30% for employment incentives, and no more than 10% for enhanced marketing of the community.

Palm Coast's Mayor Jon Netts says:
I consistently hear from the voters that more needs to be done about the lack of economic opportunity in our community.  Citizens need to study this initiative and decide if this investment in economic development is warranted. It is clear that some type of investment will be required to improve our situation.

Information about the referendum is available at the newly launched website.  Supporters have also created a Facebook page and Twitter account for people to receive updates and news regarding the referendum, which can be accessed from the website.

This is a guest blog post submitted by Greg Rawls.  He is the Executive Director of Enterprise Flagler.  Enterprise Flagler can be reached at: (386) 586-1224

Related Article -- Expert Opinion:

Strategies to Connect People to Policy:
Communicating Economic Development to Residents
By: Harriet Lewis, PhD

Related Article -- On the Other Side:

Palm Coast Resident Vince Ligouri says:
"Say NO to Enterprise Flagler's Tax Levy Proposal"

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