PANAMA CITY − Should new and expanding businesses get tax cuts? Residents will decided in the 2023 municipal elections.
Panama City commissioners on Tuesday voted to add a referendum on the upcoming ballot to decide whether the city should once again offer property tax exemptions for new and expanding businesses. Panama City offered these incentives for about three decades before the 2021 municipal elections, when they were turned down by residents.
“It’s critical that we continue to have tools in our toolbox, and this tax exemption is an incentive that we can offer to help bring companies to Panama City,” said Becca Hardin, president of the Bay Economic Development Alliance. “It was unfortunate at the last election that it did not get passed. I believe it got tied up with some other things on the ballot and people just misunderstood.
“It’s been approved for the past 30 years, and it’s been an excellent tool in helping to bring jobs to Panama City.”
Local flooding:Panama City sets no wake zones in flooded streets. Flood insurance discounts coming
Bay offers tax incentives:These four Bay County companies were approved for 10-year tax exemptions
Hardin’s group works to diversify the local economy by attracting international and domestic industries to the area. The group says these industries not only create new jobs with competitive wages, but also help the area not solely rely on tourism.
At the meeting, Hardin told commissioners the EDA met in Panama City on Monday with representatives of a German advanced manufacturer that might bring 730 new jobs to the area with a capital investment of $50 million.
She said property tax breaks play a crucial role in landing these types of projects.
Joe Holt, chairman elect of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said his group also supports the incentives and the referendum.
The tax breaks would be given only to select businesses that apply and qualify for them. Additional public hearings and ordinances also would occur before the breaks were granted.
“Compared to Georgia and Alabama, Florida has very limited economic development tools,” Holt said. “It’s very important to give municipalities and other organizations like the the EDA … resources they can leverage to bring not only new businesses to PC, but also have current businesses expanding.
“The Chamber board of directors also commits its support to help voters understand the importance of this tool when promoting and growing economic development in Panama City.”