Florida Enterprise Zone Does Not Work for Immokalee | James Pat Guerréro


The Collier County Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is relieved because the move to delay the review of Enterprise Zones in Florida, including Immokalee, will occur in 2015. The CRA, a government agency, almost lost funding for the Immokalee Enterprise Zone when Florida State Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice/Sarasota) filed S.B. 1296 before the 2011 legislative session. It has been settled that the review shall be held off until 2015 – due to some governmental outcries. Florida State Rep. Matt Hudson (R-Naples) is legislatively responsible for Immokalee.

Marketing government funding with the catchy phrase, “Florida in the 21st Century,” is a far stretch for convincing the public that the economy will improve in Immokalee. The CRA is bold, and IS the governing body, and traps itself in its own economic corner because of poor work on economic development by the whole Collier County government. The real problem with business in Immokalee is that large private businesses and Collier County government do not allow the free market to work nor stay out of selectively choosing businesses because of fear of competition. Immokalee is in economic doldrums because the State government controls business growth through funding (the CRA can also prove its own budget.) The CRA acts like a conduit for the funding, and to substantiate its own existence, it must decry Enterprise Zone, Itech, Immokalee Business Development Center (ImmBiz), and such other government-branded “entrepreneurial agents.” The government and its innovative devising of “entrepreneurial agents” do not work. If the law allows tax credits, businesses should accept them – they would be jeopardizing their own interest not to accept. But legalizing tax credits simply to control and regulate businesses is not right.

Steve Hart is incorrect in the title that Florida legislators have backed off. The Enterprise Zones must go because the concept does not work and intends to keep Immokalee from ever developing economically on its own free market initiatives. But Hart is correct in stating that Immokalee will remain the same, economically, for the whole of the 21st century. The Florida Enterprise Zone Act must go.

Enterprise zones should work in this way: (1) the State should provide tax incentives for businesses to work in the zone. This encourages families to move into Immokalee to live, work, and, hopefully, send their children to good schools. (There aren’t good schools in Immokalee.) The underlying idea is to get families to live in the surrounding area of the zone. If Immokalee can get families in, then good schools will prosper. (2) The State should do away with the CRA’s budget or budgets of any other governing body managing the enterprise zone. Tax credits are forms of opportunity cost to the State. They work if peer-reviewed studies exist that show that certain industries are better than others for enterprising initiatives in the zone.

Read More: Florida legislators back off move to shut down enterprise zones – Immokalee: Florida in the 21st Century.

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