Tax Break Sweetens Miamis Bid For New Cruise Lineas County Works To Increase Incentives For Future Firms
By Paola Iuspa
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In pursuit of new businesses, Miami-Dade county commissioners approved a tax refund for a cruise line considering basing itself in Miami-Dade and also plan to more than double rewards available in an existing job-creation incentive program.
If the start-up cruise line decides to open its 120-employee headquarters here, the firm could get $240,000 back through Florida’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund program. Of that, $48,000 during six years would come from the county.
The state program calls for the local government to foot 20% of the refund. The county Tuesday OK’d its share of the deal, but the state still needs to approve its portion, said Assistant County Manager Tony Crapp Sr.
While the unnamed cruise line is negotiating a lease for about 11,000 square feet at One Biscayne Tower, it is also looking at space in the Blue Lagoon area, both within the county’s enterprise zone, according to documents. The enterprise zone is an underdeveloped area where businesses can qualify for incentives such as tax credits and exemptions. The zone includes parts of Miami Beach, Homestead and Florida City and North-Central Miami-Dade,
The cruise line expects to make $1.5 million in capital improvements, hire 120 employees and create 90 indirect jobs. Company officials were eager for an answer about the refund now, while they weigh Florida against California as a site for their home office, according to the county.
Mr. Crapp said the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade’s economic development agency, made the refund request on behalf of the cruise line.
Commissioners Tuesday also gave preliminary OK to a plan to increase the cash available to qualified companies locating or expanding in the county under the existing Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund Program. Under the pending amendment, Miami-Dade’s program could offer firms up to $3,000, instead of $500, for every job created.
The program requires a company to pay taxes and create jobs before any cash is awarded. The incentive cannot exceed the taxes the company pays the county.
The amendment could go before the commission in January for final approval, said Assistant County Manager Bill Johnson, whose office drafted the proposed change in partnership with the Beacon Council.
The proposed change would also make the incentive available to companies that create any jobs, contrasting with the current version, which applies only to higher-paying positions. It also calls for extending the incentive fund program for six years to 2016.
Another proposed change would award up to 80% of county ad valorem property taxes to companies investing at least $3 million in their business. If the firm is in a low- to moderate-income area, it could get up to 100%, excluding land value.
The county’s incentive program is offered to firms from outside the county, with the exception of those in Palm Beach, Broward and Monroe counties.