GIBSONTON — A handful of business owners and residents are anxious to learn if their communities will be included in a state-backed enterprise zone that could bring tax breaks and new jobs to the area.
More meetings are scheduled before the Hillsborough County Commission votes on whether to expand the zone into Palm River, Gibsonton and Riverview. The zones are aimed to improve economic conditions in areas with high unemployment and poverty.
The existing enterprise zone encompasses only a 3.1-mile area near the University of South Florida. The expanded zone to the south would incorporate Mosaic Co., a large employer in the Riverview area.
“We’d like to see more businesses along U.S. 41 included, since most of Gibsonton Drive is residential,” said Carol Philips, a member of the board for Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton.
Philips was the only resident to attend a meeting Thursday night at the Gardenville Recreation Center. About eight others attended a meeting earlier in the week.
Lynn Schultz, coordinator for the enterprise zone, said County Commissioner Sandy Murman came to the Economic Development Department seeking incentives for businesses to expand and do more hiring. The department researched and found that the enterprise zone might be the best incentive available, she said.
Commissioner Les Miller is among those favoring expansion.
“Palm River is an area that needs an economic kick to expand its businesses and hire new employees within the area,” he said.
The commission is expected to vote Dec. 16 on the expansion.
The Florida Enterprise Zone program offers tax incentives to businesses in the designated area to encourage private investment and local hiring. Owners of new, expanding or rebuilding businesses could be eligible for state tax breaks and reductions in impact fees. Credits and tax refunds are also available on state corporate income tax, use tax and sales tax.
Even residents could benefit by making improvements to their own property, Schultz said. They could get refunds on taxes they pay for building materials.
The county has scheduled another meeting in Palm River for Tuesday beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the 78th Street Community Library, 7625 Palm River Road.
A third meeting takes place at the same time on Nov. 19 at the University Area Community Development Center, 14013 N. 22nd St. in Tampa.