FloridaCommerce Press Releases

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Highlights Major Milestones in 2021 Investing in a Free Florida for Floridians, Communities, and Businesses Under the Leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis

Dec 27, 2021

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Secretary Dane Eagle highlights major milestones accomplished in 2021 under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis. Throughout 2021, DEO reduced the financial burdens caused by the pandemic by providing direct assistance to Florida families, prioritized improving DEO’s accessibility and transparency, continued to support Florida businesses, and strategically invested in communities throughout the state. All of these actions over the last year have significantly contributed to assisting, supporting, and strengthening the lives of Floridians and promoting economic resiliency.

“With Governor DeSantis at Florida’s helm, DEO has accomplished significant milestones to ensure accessibility, transparency, and economic freedom, which has provided hard working Floridians, communities, and business owners with the resources they need to succeed,” said Secretary Dane Eagle of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “This year, DEO has worked with partners throughout the state to engage stakeholders on the progress of expanding broadband to rural communities, and modernizing the state’s Reemployment Assistance Program. DEO was also proud to stand with Governor DeSantis to provide much needed disaster relief payments to Florida First Responders who selflessly braved the impacts of the pandemic. Throughout 2021, DEO continued efforts to assist communities by providing Florida Job Growth Grant funding and disaster recovery funding to strengthen infrastructure and enhance Florida’s workforce in communities throughout the state.”

Throughout 2021, DEO has directly impacted the lives of more than 3.97 million individuals, including nearly 10,000 veterans, by providing assistance and resources to help them succeed long-term.

While other states continue to face economic hardship following the pandemic, Florida has experienced 19 consecutive months of job growth and 13 consecutive months of labor force increases while the state’s unemployment rate continues to decrease. These growth rates remain six times the national average, with workforce participation greater than that of pre-pandemic numbers.

In addition to helping Governor DeSantis advance Florida’s economy and workforce, DEO also assisted Governor DeSantis in helping many communities across the state in 2021 by providing more than $993 million in assistance and fostering community and economic development in the state’s rural and urban areas. DEO has assisted local governments and community organizations with efforts that prioritize local needs, balance state and federal requirements and resources, and promote viable, sustainable communities. Throughout 2021, DEO has continued to provide technical assistance and guidance on smart and strategic growth and development, grants, and other resources to local communities.

In an effort to assist Floridians, develop communities, and grow businesses, DEO is proud to highlight the following achievements, programs, and successes throughout 2021.

Enhancing Workforce Development

Throughout 2021, DEO has maintained steadfast focus on enhancing workforce development initiatives throughout the state.

  • In May, under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEO announced Florida’s Return to Work Initiative. This important initiative encouraged Floridians to return to the workforce, helped employers attract job seekers, and continued to fuel the state’s economic growth. Floridians interested in a new career path or in need of employment assistance are encouraged to explore opportunities with CareerSource Florida for new employment options, workforce and job-training skills, and career advancement assistance.
  • In June, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 1507 into law, establishing the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act. This modernized, system-wide approach to workforce development and education in Florida will create opportunities for meaningful employment and economic freedom for all Floridians by promoting and encouraging unification of partner programs and agency coordination. The strategic alignment of education and workforce initiatives will also include an online opportunity portal, allowing access to available state, federal, and local services and tools. This will provide broader access to education and training options, labor market information, career planning tools, workforce training, and education support.
  • In October, DEO hosted the first annual Veterans Workforce Summit in Orlando. The summit included training, presentations, breakout sessions, and practical exercises for Florida’s 24 Local Workforce Development Boards and DEO employees who serve in roles that assist veterans adapting their skills mastered through military service and facilitate entry into the workforce. The summit affirmed Florida’s commitment to ensuring Florida’s veterans receive the highest level of service through the Jobs for Veterans’ State Grant program, and Governor DeSantis’ vision for Florida to be the most veteran and military-friendly state in the nation. 

Florida Heroes Initiative

Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, DEO administered disaster relief payments for the Governor’s Pandemic First Responders Program. This program provided up to $1,000 to Florida’s First Responders in recognition of the courage, sacrifice, and dedication these individuals showed in serving Floridians and their communities during the pandemic.

  • DEO was proud to assist Governor DeSantis with administering more than $109 million to more than 109,000 first responders in continued efforts to support sworn law enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters, and paramedics throughout the state.

Assisting Floridians

Reemployment Assistance

Reemployment Assistance provides temporary wage replacement benefits to eligible individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own to assist in the process of becoming reemployed. Throughout 2021, DEO has been dedicated to paying Floridians the Reemployment Assistance benefits they are eligible for as quickly as possible. Improving the customer experience and implementing more efficient claims processing measures as part of the Reemployment Assistance Modernization Program has been a top priority for Governor DeSantis and DEO.

  • As of December 2021, DEO has paid more than 2.4 million claimants more than $31.8 billion in benefits throughout 2021.
  • In response to the increased use of the Reemployment Assistance system and the need to provide broader assistance to Floridians, DEO created and implemented the Reemployment Assistance Help Center in February 2021. This resource has received and resolved more than 1.1 million cases since its launch, resulting in faster assistance for claimants.
  • In April, the Florida Legislature passed landmark legislation to modernize the state’s Reemployment Assistance system, which was subsequently signed into law by Governor DeSantis. This legislation established DEO’s Office of Economic Accountability and Transparency and created a path for implementing and reporting on the progress toward an integrated, modular, cloud-based system for the Reemployment Assistance program.
  • DEO’s Reemployment Assistance Claims Dashboard, which provides transparency with tracking the total number of Reemployment Assistance claims that have been submitted, verified, processed, and paid, earned accolades in June 2021 from the Labor Market Information (LMI) Institute for Collaboration in the COVID-19 Economic Recovery. The dashboard is a great resource for Floridians to view data about the Reemployment Assistance program.
  • During the 2021 Legislative Session, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature directed, and provided funding for, DEO to undertake a sustainable, continuous modernization effort of the Reemployment Assistance system. DEO was tasked with implementing immediate system performance and functional improvement needs while positioning DEO with an integrated, modular, cloud-based system that is secure, scalable, and sustainable.
  • The Reemployment Assistance Modernization Program includes approximately 20 projects to take place over two fiscal years, which are grouped into the following categories: infrastructure, software, data and analytics, and security.
  • These initiatives address the immediate need to improve performance and usability of the Reemployment Assistance system while also establishing the architectural framework and processes necessary to implement future business process and technology changes efficiently and effectively.
  • DEO procured Independent Validation and Verification services as part of the Reemployment Assistance Modernization Program. This provides independent programmatic oversight and quality assurance services, and ensures the overall value of the state’s Reemployment Modernization efforts are achieved, and that Floridians are provided a product that meets their needs with an enhanced user experience.

As part of modernization efforts and to better protect Floridian’s personal information, DEO implemented multi-factor authentication measures as part of the login process for the Reemployment Assistance system. With these enhanced security measures in place, DEO has successfully prevented nearly 60,000 fraudulent login attempts.

Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program

The main goal of the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is to retain continuity of water services to low-income households in Florida with an emphasis on prevention of disconnection and restoration of water services to households whose water services were previously disconnected.

  • DEO has been provided approximately $75 million in funding through the program to assist low-income households with water and wastewater costs. DEO is finalizing details of this program and will be awarding funding to Floridians in the near future.

Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps income-qualified families with home heating and cooling costs. DEO administers LIHEAP and allocates funding directly to a network of community action agencies located throughout the state of Florida.

  • More than $83.9 million in assistance has been provided to more than 244,000 Floridians to provide additional payments to eligible households and assist with home energy costs.

Community Services Block Grant Program

The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program provides funding that helps Floridians with temporary and permanent housing, home repairs, housing and maintenance, and transportation services. On September 28, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified DEO that its Stage 3 Disaster Relief Supplemental Funding application for longer term recovery efforts was approved in the amount of $3.2 million. Florida will use CSBG Disaster Relief Supplemental Funds to reinforce the existing social services infrastructure to continue to support Hurricane Michael survivors’ ongoing personal recovery efforts.

  • Since April 2020, more than $1.3 million in assistance has been provided to more than 350 households to assist low-income residents in counties impacted by Hurricane Michael with temporary and permanent housing, home repairs, housing and maintenance, and transportation services.
  • In December, Governor DeSantis announced that DEO will be awarding $3.2 million to the to the Capital Area Community Action Agency and the Tri-County Community Council through the Community Services Block Grant Disaster Relief Supplemental Funding. This funding will enable these organizations to support personal recovery efforts of low-income residents impacted by Hurricane Michael. These efforts include providing temporary housing, transportation, moving services, HVAC installations, furniture replacement and other services.

Weatherization Assistance Program

The Weatherization Assistance Program provides grant funds annually through a network of designated local governments and nonprofit agencies to assist low-income Floridians with reducing energy costs by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes while ensuring their health and safety.

  • More than $5.7 million in assistance has been provided to more than 1,300 households across Florida.

Reducing Fraud and Identity Theft

  • Since March 2020, DEO has prevented more than $23 billion dollars in fraudulent Reemployment Assistance benefit payments from being paid out. DEO has also prevented more than 90% of identified fraudulent activity on claimant accounts. DEO is actively working on recouping funds paid to fraudulent claims and has recouped $8.8 million from banking institutions from identify theft.
  • Florida was the first state to implement ID.me as an identity verification resource for Reemployment Assistance claimants who were unable to access their account. The partnership with ID.me’s technology solution helps keep Floridians’ identities secure from fraudulent activity and bolster current fraud prevention measures. DEO continues to contract with ID.me and expanded that contract in February 2021 for new claimants applying for Reemployment Assistance benefits.
  • As part of the Reemployment Assistance Modernization Program, the Identity Management and Access Control project was initiated ahead of schedule to provide increased security and multi-factor authentication for existing claimants before accessing the Reemployment Assistance system. Since the implementation, DEO has seen a significant decrease in fraudulent activity.

Strengthening Communities

Florida Job Growth Grant Fund

In May, DEO announced that the Florida Legislature appropriated more than $74 million to Governor DeSantis’ Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, an economic development program designed to promote public infrastructure and workforce training across the state. Since that announcement, more than $52 million has been awarded to communities and educational institutions for this purpose. Proposals are reviewed by DEO, Enterprise Florida, DOT, DOE and DEP, and chosen by the Governor to meet the demand for workforce or infrastructure needs in the community to which they are awarded.

  • In August, Chipola College was awarded $350,000 by Governor DeSantis to expand its cybersecurity training program that will support training and certification opportunities in network security and digital forensics.
  • In August, the City of Port St. Lucie was awarded $3.5 million by Governor DeSantis to construct additional road and utility services to facilitate the buildout of Tradition Commerce Park.
  • In September, Walton County was awarded $500,000 by Governor DeSantis to construct water, sewer, and roadway infrastructure to service Woodland Commerce Park.
  • In October, the City of Winter Haven was awarded more than $6.4 million by Governor DeSantis for road construction at the Central Florida Intermodal Logistics Center to facilitate economic development in a new area of the Center.
  • In October, the City of St. Pete Beach was awarded $2 million by Governor DeSantis to update the City’s wastewater collection system, allowing the City to lift a moratorium on redevelopment.
  • In October, Northwest Florida State College was awarded more than $2.8 million by Governor DeSantis to establish a diesel mechanic training program on heavy trucks and trailers.
  • In October, the City of North Port was awarded more than $1.6 million to install water and wastewater mainlines at the Panacea Activity Center, which is expected to bring flex space opportunities in logistics, distribution, warehousing, manufacturing, and professional office employment.
  • In October, Collier County Schools was awarded more than $5.8 million to create new programs at the iTECH Glades Technical College, a five-county initiative including Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, and Collier County School Districts.
  • In October, Sumter County was awarded $6 million for road improvements at an industrial park, which is expected to lead to the creation of nearly 5,000 new jobs.
  • In October, Hernando County was awarded more than $6.1 million by Governor DeSantis to construct a combined educational and governmental complex that will provide workforce training programs focusing on skills related to targeted industries including manufacturing, professional services, aviation, and medical and diagnostic laboratories.
  • In October, the City of Tavares was awarded $6 million by Governor DeSantis to construct a regional workforce training and innovation center in partnership with Lake Technical College. The facility construction will help Florida meet workforce demands of more than 67,000 new openings over the next eight years in the fields of diesel systems technology, automotive services, and automotive collision.
  • In November, the Jacksonville Aviation Authority was awarded $6 million by Governor DeSantis to construct new roadway and utility infrastructure at the Cecil Airport and Spaceport, bringing the total number of jobs at the airport and spaceport to 6,251.
  • In December, Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) was awarded more than $3.1 million by Governor DeSantis to establish the Nassau County Transportation Education Institute, a commercial driving facility that will expand the workforce training available at the FSCJ’s Nassau Center. These funds will provide required driving classes and endorsements for an estimated 1,240 individuals to obtain high-demand jobs in the transportation industry.
  • In December, Big Bend Technical College was awarded $2 million by Governor DeSantis to construct a new training lab and lecture facility at the College’s campus. In addition to the new training lab and lecture facility, these funds will help the College expand its existing health science programs and purchase state-of-the-art programmable manikins, virtual reality equipment, and software to replicate real-world scenarios for advanced clinical learning in Practical Nursing, Patient Care Technician, Nursing Assistant, and Phlebotomy programs.

Rural Infrastructure Fund

In 2021, the Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) provided assistance to 18 rural communities in Florida that will help facilitate the planning, preparing, and financing of infrastructure projects in rural communities that encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of rural economies.

  • More than $927,000 was awarded by Governor DeSantis in January through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to three rural Florida communities to strengthen public infrastructure.
  • More than $4.6 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis in February through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to 12 Northwest Florida communities that were impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • Nearly $1.4 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis in September through the Rural Infrastructure Fund to three communities to attract business investment and improve broadband access.

Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program

In July, DEO announced more than $19 million in grant awards through the Florida Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program to improve infrastructure, housing, community redevelopment, and job creation in nearly 30 small and rural communities as follows:

Competitive Florida Partnership

The Competitive Florida Partnership helps communities utilize their unique assets and challenges its leaders to set realistic goals to advance their economic development visions. A community that participates in this grant opportunity is committed to innovative strategies that promote partnerships, community design, and a viable economy. The partnership establishes a network of vibrant communities and passionate leaders who gain ideas on how to reach their goals through the success and lessons learned from their peers.

  • In July, $280,000 was awarded by Governor DeSantis to eight small and rural communities, which will establish a partnership with DEO and provide funding assistance to small rural areas to begin the strategic economic development planning process.

Office of Broadband

The Office of Broadband works to increase the availability and effectiveness of broadband internet throughout the state, specifically in small and rural communities.

  • DEO launched the Local Technology Planning Teams Initiative to establish teams in each county to work with public-private partners and municipalities for valuable insight on broadband internet needs across the state. The Office of Broadband will utilize the Teams, as well as the statewide mapping initiative, to help design the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband, state programs, and resources for broadband adoption, deployment, expansion, and resiliency.

Community Planning Technical Assistance Grants

Community Planning Technical Assistance grants, administered by DEO, fund innovative planning and development strategies to promote economic diversity while protecting environmentally sensitive areas.

  • In July, more than $1.2 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis to 27 Florida communities and two regional planning councils.
  • In September, an additional $95,600 was awarded for two more planning projects totaling more than $1.3 million in Community Planning Technical Assistance grants.

Defense Infrastructure Grant Program

The Defense Infrastructure Grant Program supports local infrastructure projects deemed to have an impact on the military value of installations within the state. Infrastructure projects to be funded under this program include those related to encroachment, transportation, access to military installations, utilities, communications, housing, environment, and security. 

  • A total of $1.6 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis in September to five communities and organizations to support economic diversification efforts and military community relations.

Defense Reinvestment Grant Program

The Defense Reinvestment Grant Program provides support to community-based activities that protect existing military installations. These grants are awarded to applicants that represent a local government with a military installation that could be adversely affected by federal actions.

  • A total of $800,000 was awarded by Governor DeSantis in September to 10 communities and organizations to support community-based activities that protect existing military installations.

Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery

Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds support communities by addressing long-term recovery needs for housing, infrastructure, and economic development from natural disasters.  

  • Rebuild Florida Housing Repair and Replacement Program — As of December 2021, the program has awarded more than $396 million to more than 4,555 homeowners impacted by Hurricane Michael and Irma, and more than 1,600 homes have been completed. The Housing Repair and Replacement Program helps eligible homeowners impacted by the storm by repairing, reconstructing, or replacing damaged homes across the hardest-hit communities.
  • Rebuild Florida Voluntary Home Buyout Program – In January, more than $12.4 million was awarded to three communities that will help reduce the impact of future disasters by encouraging risk reduction through the purchase of residential property in high flood-risk areas.
  • Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program – In April, $4.7 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis to two academic institutions in Hurricane Michael-impacted communities to train Floridians in construction trades to support future disaster recovery efforts.
  • Rebuild Florida General Infrastructure Repair Program –In January, Governor DeSantis awarded nearly $100 million to 24 communities impacted by Hurricane Irma. In May, the Governor awarded $111.5 million to 22 communities in Hurricane Michael impacted areas. The program helps communities fund infrastructure restoration and improvement projects in communities impacted by disasters.

  • Rebuild Florida Hometown Revitalization Program – In August, more than $58 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis to Hurricane Michael-impacted communities that will support the recovery of economic activity in commercial areas of impacted towns and cities, along with facilitating the return and recovery of businesses, jobs, and provision of goods and services to the community.

  • Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program –On the third anniversary of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, more than $3.1 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis for 12 projects. On December 16, an additional $8.8 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis for 32 projects. The program is designed to fund the local match portion of the award. FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) requires a 25 percent local match. These funds represent a unique and significant opportunity for the state, in the areas most impacted by recent disasters, to carry out strategic and high impact activities to rebuild and harden infrastructure to prevent or reduce losses in future disasters.

Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Mitigation

Rebuild Florida Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funds represent a unique and significant opportunity for the state of Florida, in the areas most impacted by recent disasters, to carry out strategic and high-impact activities to minimize or eliminate risks and reduce losses from future disasters. In addition to mitigating disaster risks, the funds provide an opportunity to improve state and local planning protocols and procedures.

  • Rebuild Florida General Planning Support Program Nearly $20 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis in January to 37 counties, municipalities, educational institutions, and non-profit organizations to help communities and organizations develop or enhance state, regional, or local disaster plans which will enable the state of Florida to withstand future disasters.
  • Rebuild Florida Critical Facility Hardening Program $75 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis in February to 30 communities that will assist local governments with increasing the resiliency of critical facilities that serve a public safety purpose for local communities.
  • Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program – More than $147 million was awarded by Governor DeSantis to 15 Florida communities to assist communities with developing large-scale infrastructure projects to make communities more resilient to future disasters.

Supporting Businesses

Surfside Business Assistance

After the Surfside condo collapse in June 2021, DEO deployed two mobile workstations from Tallahassee to ground zero in Surfside, Florida. DEO hosted the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist residents and businesses impacted by the condo collapse. This three-week mission provided critical outreach and assistance to more than 80 businesses in the surrounding area to promote programs available through DEO and the SBA.

State Small Business Credit Initiative

The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) offers loans to small businesses for qualified business purposes, including startup costs, working capital, business procurement, franchise fees, equipment, inventory, as well as the purchase, construction, renovation, or tenant improvements of an eligible place of business that is not for passive real estate investment purposes. SSBCI was reauthorized to support capital access initiatives for Florida’s small businesses, very small businesses, and those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. This initiative helps small businesses across the state expand, grow, and provide new opportunities for Floridians to advance Florida’s economy. Throughout 2021, SSBCI facilitated more than $117 million in private market lending activity by providing more than $32 million in SSBCI funding to help 16 businesses expand, create more than 250 jobs, and retain an additional 195 jobs.

Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund

The Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund provides existing and new Florida small businesses with easy access to available and affordable working capital at reasonable interest rates and terms to help them grow and expand.

  • To date, the program has funded 65 small business loan applications in the amount of $21,460,000. In turn, these businesses have created 660 private sector jobs. In January, Governor DeSantis announced the expansion of lending guidelines approved by the United States Economic Development Administration.

Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption Program

Qualified production companies that produce films, television series, commercials, music videos, or sound recordings in Florida may be eligible for a sales-and-use tax exemption on certain production related purchases in Florida.

  • During fiscal year 2020-2021, the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment approved 963 applications for the Entertainment Industry Sales Tax Exemption Program. Those applicants spent an estimated $1.2 billion in the state and employed more than 36,000 Floridians during the year. Additionally, during fiscal year 2020-2021, the Florida Office of Film and Entertainment assisted 2,160 Florida productions, of which 1,785 resulted in business and employment in Florida.

Florida Defense Cybersecurity Training Program

DEO received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation in the amount of $1,070,500 to create the Florida Defense Cybersecurity Training Program. The program provides education, cybersecurity assessments, and training seminars for small and medium-sized businesses in the Florida defense community as they work to implement enhanced DOD cyber regulations.

  • The program has provided Florida businesses with a series of 10 online and in-person training seminars across the state, which have served more than 1,600 attendees and more than 700 Florida businesses.

Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund

The Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund serves to improve economic opportunities within Florida’s brownfield areas, which are areas that have been designated as brownfields due to the presence or perceived presence of environmental contamination. The Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Tax Refund encourages redevelopment and job creation within designated brownfield sites, where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination.

  • During fiscal year 2020-21, DEO refunded $328,125 in taxes to companies that created new jobs and made capital investments at a project located on a brownfield site.

Community Contribution Tax Credit Program

The Community Contribution Tax Credit Program provides up to 50 percent tax credit or sales tax refund incentive to encourage Florida businesses to make donations toward community development and housing projects for low-income individuals. The program has a total allocation of $14 million in state tax credits available.

  • Since July 1, 2021, DEO has approved a total of 203 Community Contribution Tax Credit applications, totaling the full $14 million tax credit allocation. Of these awards, 149 applications supported housing or home ownership for low-income Floridians or Floridians with special needs. The remaining 54 applications supported a variety of projects across Florida related to community revitalization, education, and other economic needs.

Rural Areas of Opportunity Exempt Goods and Services Sales Tax Refund

The Rural Areas of Opportunity (RAO) Tax Refund program was established to encourage new construction projects within rural areas throughout the state. The program offers a maximum sales tax refund of $10,000 for the purchase of building materials used in new construction projects within designated rural areas of opportunity. 

  • Since July 1, 2021, 686 program applications have been approved, totaling nearly $3.4 million in sales tax refunds to Floridians and encouraging new construction projects within designated RAO.

Urban Job Tax Credit Program

The Urban Job Tax Credit Program offers an incentive for eligible businesses located within one of the 13 designated urban areas to create new jobs. The program provides meaningful employment opportunities that will improve the quality of life of those employed and promotes economic expansion of new and existing businesses in urban areas of Florida.

  • Since January 2021, DEO has approved seven applications totaling $306,500 in tax credits and creating 337 new jobs located in one of the 13 designated Urban High-Crime Areas. 

Research and Development Tax Credit

The Research and Development Tax Credit provides a corporate income tax credit for eligible businesses for certain qualified research expenses.

  • By March 2021, DEO issued 93 certification letters verifying the applicants as eligible, target industry businesses to be included in the Application for Allocation of Credit against federal income tax for qualified research expenses with the Department of Revenue.

Space, Defense, or Semiconductor Sales Tax Exemption

The Space, Defense, or Semiconductor Sales Tax Exemption is used to attract and support existing Florida businesses in specific technology-based sectors by providing an exemption for sales and use taxes on new capital investments in machinery and equipment used in eligible manufacturing and research. 

  • In 2021, eight companies applied to renew their existing tax exemption certificates.

Capital Investment Tax Credit

The Capital Investment Tax Credit is used to attract and grow capital-intensive industries in Florida. It is an annual credit, provided for up to twenty years, against the corporate income tax. Eligible projects must be in a high-impact sector and commit to at least 100 new employees and $25 million in capital investment.

  • In 2021, 10 companies have been approved to participate in the program, and approved projects are projected to make more than $1 billion in capital investment in Florida.

Florida First Business Bond Pool

The Florida First Business Bond Pool is available to provide written confirmation for private activity bonds to finance Florida First Business projects.

  • In 2021, two applicants were certified as a Florida First Business project. Brightline Holdings, LLC’s project was approved to receive written confirmation of an allocation of up to $125 million for the purpose of issuing tax-exempt private activity bonds to extend the company’s high speed intercity passenger rail system from Miami to Orlando, construct additional stations along the line, and begin the design of a further extension to Tampa with a complete system totaling 320 miles.

Business Compliance and Accountability

  • Since January 2021, the Bureau of Compliance and Accountability has reviewed 178 incentive claims, confirmed nearly $442 million in capital investments and DEO has provided more than $13.7 million in tax refunds, confirming 6,568 new jobs. 

About DEO

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce, and community development efforts, expediting economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities, and promote economic resiliency. For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit www.FloridaJobs.org.


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