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New Program to Help Keep and Attract High Wage Jobs Downtown Goes Before City Council Next Week

Downtown Orlando's Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) have proposed a new program called the Business Retention & Expansion Program. The CRA Advisory Board recommended approval of it January 22, 2020. The program goes before City Council for final approval February 24th.

This new effort would award incentives to applicant businesses (particularly those with high-wage and sector specific jobs that will support the growth of downtown Orlando) that relocate to, remain in, or expand in downtown Orlando.

The incentives are (1) up to $50,000 for location buildout and (2) up to $4,000 per job created, 150 jobs max.

The program would also provide successful applicants with services and technical assistance related to market data, labor force data, real estate data, and access to economic development organizations.

The CRA's plan book called DTOutlook addresses the need to stimulate economic growth in the Downtown Redevelopment Area by attracting new business to the Area and by encouraging the continued operation or expansion of existing businesses. Also, it specifically provides for the CRA to encourage and support business locations and expansions within the Area by reducing barriers to entry. Additionally, the DTOutlook provides for the CRA to incentivize job creation within the Area, with particular focus on high wage jobs, the technology industry, and corporate anchors.

The Community Redevelopment Agency says, "As rental rates per square foot and monthly parking costs per employee in downtown continue to increase, companies are seriously considering whether they should remain in downtown. Numerous conversations with company executives have revealed that many downtown businesses are weighing the costs of being in downtown against the costs of locating somewhere else in the greater Orlando."

To qualify, a business must have at least 10 employees, have been in operation downtown for at least 3 years, agree to stay for 5 more years, be at least 18 months or less from the expiration of their lease, and be a part of the Qualified Targeted Industries which include Advanced Manufacturing, Aviation, Aerospace, and Defense, Corporate Headquarters and Regional Offices Not including Financial and Professional Services, Innovative Technologies, and Life Sciences and Healthcare.

For the location buildout incentive, the business must remain in the location at least 3 years and the improvements must not be removed or demolished for 3 years. Otherwise, the incentive must be paid back to the Community Redevelopment Agency. Eligible items include: space buildout, permitting fees, impact fees, and sewer fees.

For the job incentive, the company can receive up to $4,000 per job to be disbursed over 3 years for a maximum of 150 jobs. The amount awarded per job is based on each job's relation to the Annual Average Wage (AAW). A business would receive $3,000 per job if it's 115% of the Orange County or State of Florida AAW, $3,500 per job if it's 150%, and $4,000 if it's 200%.

Businesses cannot seek funding under both this program and the City’s Business Assistance Program (BAP).

The program can change at any time. The CRA retains the right to deviate from the program guidelines, or amend the program guidelines, agreements, and application procedures.


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