Suwannee County Council for Progress
The Council for Progress is the public relations arm of economic development in Suwannee County. This organization works directly with local businesses that are expanding and businesses that are considering relocating to Suwannee County from other areas of Florida or from out of state. About 75% of the Alliance Presidentís time is spent between being the arms, legs, ears, and mouth of this organization and the Development Authority.
One task of the Council for Progress is to work with prospective businesses and do all we can to prove to them that Suwannee County has everything needed to be the perfect location for their business. We must prove that we have the land or building they want, have or can get the infrastructure that is needed, and show that the county can supply workers to fill their employment needs. It is our job, also, to work on getting local, state or federal incentives to help the prospective business. I know that you hear all kinds of rumors about what businesses, industries, restaurants, and so on are coming to town. Some of what you hear may be true, but when new businesses begin to inquire about our county and meet and visit with us, this does not mean that they are definitely locating here. In most cases when companies begin looking, they are looking in several different counties or even different states. At the onset of our contact we begin to develop an incentive package that will entice the company to choose our county. Often the state is involved to discuss the incentives available from them. Sometimes federal incentives are available. After the details of incentives are worked out they are applied for and then approved by the governmental agency that is responsible. Only then can an announcement be made that the company is coming. Sometimes this can take up to a year to accomplish!
The Council for Progress was instrumental in establishing one very important local incentive: the present program of tax abatement. Tax abatement, which was first approved by Suwannee County voters in 1994 and was approved for the second time in 2004, is a tool for local governments to use to expand the economy. A tax exemption is given, on a case by case basis, for taxes on real property, for a specified number of years and is available not only for new businesses to Suwannee County, but can be applied for by established businesses that are planning to expand. Recently Gold Kist received abatement on their expansion project. This addition to their plant will create over 85 new jobs for our community. We appreciate the County Commissioners granting this request for abatement that kept the Gold Kist expansion in our community. When a company receives abatement on real property, it continues to pay all other taxes including school taxes, land taxes, Suwannee River Water Management District taxes, etc. In this way abatement creates a larger tax base and gives additional revenue for local government, and can actually minimize property tax increases for individual homeowners.
The Council for Progress Board is governed by eight members. The Council for Progress pays expenses (conferences and seminars, meals for those interested prospects, cell phone, travel, other per diem expenses), and one-half of the salary of the Alliance president Funding is accomplished by dues from its membership. The membership dues, then, are used to facilitate the face to face contact that is crucial in bringing the economic development that will benefit our county.If you would like to be involved in economic development in Suwannee County, becoming a member of the Council for Progress is for you! This is an exciting time of growth. With business and industrial growth comes more jobs and better salaries. The domino effect begins and the community flourishes. However, one thing we donít want to do is to lose the rural atmosphere that we all enjoy. That is why your city and county officials are working together, along with the Alliance, to control the way that growth happens and keep the rural integrity. By joining the Council for Progress you can be a part of the exciting work that is going on and help build a better future for Suwannee County.
Contact one of the board members or call the Chamber of Commerce office at 362-3071 and we will be glad to sign you up!