Tallahassee, Fla. – The National Coalition for Capital, along with the Associated Industries of Florida, Enterprise Florida, Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida League of Cities, applauds the Florida House of Representatives for unanimously passing CS/CS/HB 485, the Florida New Markets Development Program – Fast Track Economic Stimulus for Small Businesses, by a vote of 116-to-0. This legislation parallels the highly successful Federal New Markets Program, which Congress recently expanded to $26 billion as a part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.
"The National Coalition for Capital recognizes that Florida, like so many other states, is struggling to grow jobs and provide access to capital for promising small businesses," said Ben Dupuy, spokesperson for National Coalition for Capital. "Legislative solutions are often necessary to jump-start state economies in their efforts to develop new jobs and tax revenues. Florida New Markets will attract many well-qualified participants, who will provide $250 million in private funds for businesses throughout the state at a time when national credit markets remain frozen."
The Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund reports that the nearly 400 community development organizations that have been awarded tax credits have financed close to 2,000 businesses in low-income communities, created tens of thousands of jobs and raised more than $12.6 billion in equity. Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Illinois are among the states that have passed state-level New Markets legislation. Relying on extensive federal oversight by two arms of the Treasury Department allows states to maximize their participation without having to expand state bureaucracies. While Florida has benefited from the federal program, it ranks a disappointing 25th in the country, according to a General Accounting Office report.
“While I introduced this legislation last year and it was a good idea then, we could not afford it due to our revenue decline,” said Representative Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), who received the National Coalition for Capital's "Champion of Small Business" award last summer, for shepherding the legislation through the Florida House. “Today, the world has changed, and in my district we have double-digit unemployment. This year we can’t afford not to do it.”
“We just conducted a study where 58 percent of Floridians said that they want the government to act aggressively to improve the economy,” said Barney Bishop, president and chief executive officer of Associated Industries of Florida. “This legislation is a step in the right direction for Florida’s economy and the taxpayers agree that we must sustain and create new jobs across the Sunshine State. That is why New Markets is a cornerstone of our Economic Stimulus Package 2.0.”
"Access to capital is vital for Florida businesses to grow our economy," said Mark Wilson, president and chief executive officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “The goal of this legislation is to create high-paying jobs and foster vibrant communities for years to come.”
“This bill is essential to advancing high-wage job creation and small business growth, which is an important economic driver," said John Adams, president & chief executive officer of Enterprise Florida. "Therefore, as we work toward an economic transition in Florida, we must establish, as well as maintain, resources that foster small business development, job creation and job retention. These new markets tax credits will help us to accomplish this goal.”
“The New Markets Development Program will assure that low-income communities capture the opportunities for sustainability through much-needed capital investments,” said Desinda Carper, senior legislative advocate for the Florida League of Cities. “Expedient enactment of the legislation will enable an immediate solution to current challenges within these communities.”
Not only will CS/CS/HB 485 provide $250 million in private sector investment in low-income communities within 12 months; according to a recent study conducted by the Florida-based Washington Economics Group (WEG), the legislation will also provide the following to the State of Florida over the seven-year life of the program:
"Any program that helps create this number of jobs, within this time period, is a serious boost to Florida's economy," said Dr. Tony Villamil, principal advisor of WEG and former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs.
According to a recent poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, 71 percent of Floridians favor implementing a state-level program to encourage investment in small businesses in Florida’s low-income communities. As according to recent unemployment numbers from the Agency for Workforce Innovation, there are currently 893,000 Floridians out of work, representing a 9.7 percent unemployment rate – the highest since 1975.
Similar legislation in the Florida Senate, CS/CS/SB 1502 by the Senate Community Affairs and Commerce Committee and Senator Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), recently passed the Senate Policy and Steering Committee on Ways and Means, its final committee of reference, and is ready to be heard on the Senate Floor.
"Access to capital is critical for Florida's businesses to grow our economic engine," said Senator Fasano, who sponsored Governor Charlie Crist's small business loan legislation during Florida's Special Session in January 2009 and is sponsoring the Senate version of the Florida New Markets bill. "I firmly believe Florida's small business owners should have every possible opportunity to attract private sector capital."
The National Coalition for Capital is a non-profit, nationwide coalition of leaders supporting economic development and job creation through long-term access to capital for entrepreneurs and emerging companies. For more information on the National Coalition for Capital, please visit www.nationalcoalitionforcapital.org.