Business Assistance

To maintain its world-class business climate, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers relocating and expanding businesses a wide range of benefits, including:

The advantages of doing business in Greater Fort Lauderdale carry over to the personal side, where individuals pay no state or local personal income taxes, giving companies an added enticement in recruiting technology specialists, and other talent.

Tax Advantages

A stable and highly favorable tax climate enhances profitability for a wide variety of businesses looking to grow and prosper in a Florida location.

Florida has . . .
• NO corporate income tax on limited partnerships
• NO corporate income tax on subchapter S-corporations
• NO state personal income tax guaranteed by constitutional provision
• NO corporate franchise tax on capital stock
• NO state-level property tax assessed
• NO property tax on business inventories
• NO property tax on goods-in-transit for up to 180 days
• NO sales and use tax on goods manufactured or produced in Florida for export outside the state
• NO sales tax on purchases of raw materials incorporated in a final product for resale, including non-reusable containers or packaging
• NO sales/use tax on boiler fuels
• NO sales/use tax on co-generation of electricity

Florida Offers Sales and Use Tax Exemptions On . . .
• Semiconductor, defense and space technology-based industry transactions involving manufacturing or research equipment
• Purchases of machinery and equipment used by a new or expanding Florida business to manufacture, produce or process tangible personal property for sale
• Labor, parts and materials used in repair of and incorporated into machinery and equipment that qualify for sales tax exemption upon purchase
• Electricity used in the manufacturing process
• Aircraft parts, modification, maintenance and repair, sale or lease of qualified aircraft
• Commercial space activity – launch vehicles, payloads and fuel, machinery and equipment for production of items used exclusively at Spaceport Florida
• Labor component of research and development expenditures
• Any facility, device, fixture, machinery or equipment required for pollution control, abatement or monitoring of equipment used in manufacturing processing or compounding items for sale

Access to Capital
Florida provides business leaders easy access to capital. Whether a business needs venture capital, experienced commercial lenders, or access to federal and state programs, Florida has full access to capital resources.

Venture Capital
Venture capitalists can provide the funding needed to jump-start a business. These venture capital firms or angel investors are willing to provide an entrepreneur with seed capital in the hopes of gaining a substantial return when the business takes off. Florida has an entrepreneurial networking group called The Florida Venture Forum that is a resource of proven value. For more information, visit www.flventure.org.

Business Incubators/Accelerators
Emerging entrepreneurs can receive assistance through results-driven business incubators such as the Innovation Hub at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, the TechWalk Incubator located at The Walk in Coral Springs and the Metro Broward Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Success Center (SBSC). 

The Innovation Hub at Broward College is a mixed-use business incubator, focusing on housing a dynamic community of entrepreneurs, start-ups, mentors, advisors and investors, and serving as a one-stop resource for business owners, innovators and committed individuals pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions.

Launched in 2016, the Venture Formula at Broward College will provide entrepreneurs with programming mentorship opportunities and business contacts across the South Florida corporate landscape.  The business accelerator curriculum will cover everything from coding to accounting, while the collaborative environment will foster the exchange of best practices and ideas across ventures.

TechWalk is an initiative of Enterprise Development Corporation (EDC) where incubator companies can easily tap into an array of resources, including mentors, investors, community collaborators, and business services.  The Metro Broward SBSC incubates startup companies by providing access to advice from industry leaders, academic professionals, subject matter experts, financial advisors, marketing and public relations professionals – all within a solid turnkey infrastructure.

Fast-Track Permitting

Broward County and municipal partners offer fast-track permitting, a process that accelerates the normal time it takes to acquire permits. The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance can provide assistance to expanding and relocating companies.

Platinum Cities
Twenty Broward municipalities have been named “Platinum Cities” after approving a permitting excellence process recommended by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. Those municipalities include Coconut Creek, Cooper City, Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, Margate, Miramar, Oakland Park, Parkland, Pembroke Pines, Plantation, Pompano Beach, Sunrise, Tamarac, and Wilton Manors.

The purpose of the permitting excellence process, designed for high-impact, targeted industry businesses that are relocating or expanding in Broward County, is to provide businesses with a streamlined, first-rate experience when going through the development, permitting and inspection process for office and industrial properties.

Steps communities are taking to provide an excellent permitting experience include pre-development meetings and designating a city staff member as a single point of contact to assist the company through the permitting process. An online permitting system also allows applicants to review the status of their permits on a real-time basis throughout the process.

Broward County's ePermits Initiative
Multiple Broward County agencies have worked cooperatively over the past 24 months to design a new electronic permitting system known as "ePermits." Contractors, businesses, design professionals and residents can visit www.broward.org/ePermits to identify their project type and obtain information on required permits.

The ePermits cloud-based program is an example of how the county is moving forward to improve operational effectiveness, efficiency and transparency.  It allows Broward residents and customers to submit applications to a permitting agency with significantly reduced turnaround review time. Still under long-term development, the ePermit program is a one-stop shop for electronic submittal of plans, projects, permits, and licenses that will:

Targeted Industries

Qualified Target Industry Refund (QTI)
Tax refund incentives are available to companies that create high-wage, value-added jobs in targeted industries such as corporate headquarters; life sciences; infotech; aviation/aerospace; homeland security/defense; financial/professional services; marine sciences; research and development; and manufacturing. Pre-approved applicants who create jobs in Florida can be eligible to receive tax refunds from $3,000 to $5,000 per new Florida full-time equivalent job created.

Qualifying companies must pay a minimum of 115 percent ($51,266) of Broward County's average wage of $44,579. (Average wage rates are revised every January.) New or expanding businesses in selected targeted industries or corporate headquarters are eligible.

High Impact Performance Incentive Grant (HIPI)
The High Impact Performance Incentive is a negotiated grant used to attract and grow major high impact facilities in Florida. Grants are provided to pre-approved applicants in certain high-impact sectors designated by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

In order to participate in the program, the project must: operate within designated high-impact portions of the following sectors– clean energy, corporate headquarters, financial services, life sciences, semiconductors, and transportation equipment manufacturing; create at least 50 new full-time equivalent jobs (if a R&D facility, create at least 25 new full-time equivalent jobs) in Florida in a three-year period; and make a cumulative investment in the state of at least $50 million (if a R&D facility, make a cumulative investment of at least $25 million) in a three-year period.

Capital Investment Tax Credit (CITC)
To encourage investment in Florida, the state offers a Capital Investment Tax Credit to qualifying companies. To participate in the program, a company must apply to Enterprise Florida and be certified by the Governor’s Office prior to commencement of operations. To qualify for consideration under the program, an applicant must operate within designated high impact portions of the following sectors: clean energy, corporate headquarters, financial services, information technology, life sciences, semiconductors, and transportation equipment manufacturing; create at least 100 new jobs in Florida in connection with the project; and make a cumulative capital investment of at least $25 million in connection with the project from the beginning of construction to the commencement of operations. 

The amount of the annual credit is up to 5 percent of the eligible capital costs generated by a qualifying project, for up to 20 years. The annual credit may not exceed a specified percentage of the annual corporate income tax liability generated by the project. Those percentages are: 100 percent for a project with a cumulative capital investment of at least $100 million; 75 percent for a project with a cumulative capital investment of at least $50 million but less than $100 million; and 50 percent for a project with a cumulative capital investment of at least $25 million but less than $50 million.

*For select projects, unused portion of tax credit may be extended for up to 30 years.

Workforce Training

Quick Response Training Incentives
Quick Response Training Incentives (QRT) is a customer-driven training program designed to assist new value-added businesses and provide existing Florida businesses the necessary training for expansion. This program is customized, flexible and responsive to individual company needs.

Incumbent Worker Training Program
Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) is a program providing training to currently employed workers to keep Florida’s workforce competitive in a global economy and to retain existing businesses. The program is available to all Florida businesses that have been in operation for at least one year prior to application and require training for existing employees.

Employed Worker Training Program
Employed Worker Training (EWT) is a program provided through CareerSource Broward. The goal of this locally funded program is to upgrade the skills of existing employees with the flexibility to meet many training requirements.

The program provides industry-specific or company-specific training for employees, which can be customized to a business’ individual objectives. It is designed for companies that need to advance the skills of existing employees for the purpose of advancing their wages and positions, and to assist employees in retaining jobs that provide self-sufficient employment. From line-staff workers to professional-level employees, productivity and morale are sure to increase as a result of exposure to real-world lessons from industry experts.

See “Workforce” section for additional information.

Road Infrastructure

Economic Development Transportation Fund
The Economic Development Transportation Fund, commonly referred to as the “Road Fund,” is an incentive tool designed to alleviate transportation issues related to a specific company’s location or expansion decision.  Eligible projects are those that facilitate economic development by eradicating location-specific transportation problems (e.g., access roads, signalization, road widening, etc.) on behalf of a specific eligible company (e.g., manufacturing, corporate/regional headquarters, and certain other multi-state business services). Up to $3,000,000 may be provided to a local government to implement the improvements.

Public-Private Partnerships

The State of Florida welcomes public-private partnerships for a wide range of infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges, ports and healthcare facilities. Under state law, businesses can submit unsolicited proposals to local governments. If approved by the public sector, the project can begin, creating new jobs and business opportunities for contractors, designers and other professionals.  The law also authorizes public-private partnerships to contract for public service work with a not-for-profit-organization or charitable youth organization, and provides certain requirements for contracts specific to park land and public education buildings.  Additionally, it creates an alternative procurement process and requirements for public-private partnerships to facilitate the construction of public-purpose projects.

Since industry leaders gathered in Fort Lauderdale in 2012 to share ideas and build relationships, the Florida Council for Public Private Partnerships has become a key source of information on these programs. The council holds regular networking events, webinars and conferences that focus on opportunities in this growing field. For more information, visit www.fcp3.org.

Special Opportunities

Urban Incentives
Florida offers increased incentive awards and lower wage qualification thresholds for businesses locating in many urban core/inner city areas that are experiencing conditions affecting the economic viability of the community and hampering the self-sufficiency of the residents.

FPL Incentives
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), the largest electric utility in Florida, offers discounted service for new or expanding businesses that add a minimum of 350-KW demand of new electric load and create at least 25 new jobs per 350-KW demand of added load.  FPL’s economic development rate can potentially save a 350-KW demand business customer $9,500 to $12,000 in the first year to help offset costs associated with the start-up, expanding or moving their operations to Florida.

Visit PoweringFlorida.com or email PoweringFlorida@FPL.com for more information.  

Finance

Below-Market-Rate Loans 
A wide array of sound financial institutions and specialized government financing programs are available in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Short-term loans for real estate, equipment or operating capital are available for qualified applicants.

SBA Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several loan programs that provide financial aid to small businesses. A few of the most popular programs are Basic 7(a) Business Loan, Micro-Loans and the CDC/504 Program.

Micro-loan lenders and Certified Development Companies (CDC) work with the SBA to provide financing to small businesses. The Micro-Loan Program provides very small loans to start-up, newly established or growing small business concerns. Under this program, SBA makes funds available to non-profit community-based lenders (intermediaries) that, in turn, make loans to eligible borrowers in amounts up to a maximum of $35,000. The average loan size is about $10,500. Applications are submitted to the local intermediary and all credit decisions are made at the local level.

Industrial Revenue Bond
Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) provide a source of long-term, sub-prime market financing of capital requirements for relocating or expanding manufacturing and tax exempt 501(c)(3)facilities. IRBs are securities issued by local governments or government agencies for the purpose of financing the capital costs of private and not for profit projects. Although the bonds are considered special obligations of a government unit and therefore exempt from federal income tax on the interest, the bonds are not backed by the faith and credit of the government or the government agency. The private borrower is responsible for the debt and must provide adequate security and guarantee the bond as outlined in section 18.62 of the Broward County Administrative Code. Several examples of capital costs that can be financed are land acquisition and construction costs, the acquisition of a building and a minimum renovation of 15 percent of the facility, as well as machinery and equipment. For more information, call the Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development at 954-357-8075.

South Florida Regional Planning Council Revolving Loan Fund
The South Florida Regional Planning Council Revolving Loan Fund provides loans of $50,000 to $300,000 to small to medium-sized businesses in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties. The loans are for existing businesses looking to expand or relocate, create jobs and/or retain jobs.  Examples of loan uses include financing to expand to a new location, upgrading equipment and providing needed working capital. The loans provide opportunities for businesses to obtain financing where credit is not otherwise granted. Some of the criteria for receiving the loans include:  the applicant must attempt to secure conventional financing first before applying; must show proof of denial from a conventional financier; and the owner must have a 10 to 20 percent equity stake in the project.  Funding cannot be used for the acquisition of a business, business assets or stock. For more information visit www.sfrpc.com/rlf.htm.

Taxes

Corporate Income Tax
Florida’s corporate income tax rate is one of the nation’s lowest at 5.5 percent of Florida net income. In Florida, that amounts to just over 6 percent of total state tax revenue. The national average is nearly 8.5 percent. In Broward County, businesses pay no corporate income tax on foreign source dividends (as defined in the federal tax code). They can also receive tax credits by hiring individuals from targeted groups. Adjusted federal income is apportioned to Florida, in accordance with a three-factor formula, which is the ratio of Florida’s portion of property, payroll and sales taxes to the totals of those factors in the firm’s entire operation. For more information, call the Florida Department of Revenue at  800-352-3671.

Florida Emergency Excise Tax
All businesses must file a Florida Emergency Excise Tax return, which is found in the Florida corporate tax form package. Other excise taxes are imposed on motor fuels, cigarettes, oil and gas at the port of production. Taxes also are levied on operating terminal facilities and handling pollutants.

Additional Services
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance helps businesses navigate through the relocation or expansion process by serving as a liaison to government to expedite project activity. In addition, the Alliance provides site selection assistance and can work as an intermediary for introductions to local real estate experts.

The Alliance also provides key market intelligence including demographics, labor availability, taxes, cost of living comparisons and research on request; workforce, recruitment and training assistance can also be provided.

For assistance from the Alliance, please call 954-524-3113.