One key to successful business start-up and expansion is the ability to obtain and secure appropriate financing. Raising capital is the most basic of all business activities. Raising capital is not easy, and it can be a complex process. A startup or early-stage company has little chance of getting significant bank loan. Despite the late night commercials touting free government money, it is hard to find any government entities handing out cash. Neither the U.S. Small Business Administration nor most other federal and state agencies offer grants or “free money” for starting or developing a business. What grant money is available is primarily for existing businesses to carry out certain specific tasks for government programs.   

Lee County Programs:

Lee County FIRST Program for High Value Jobs ($25 M Incentive) Business expansion and locations; cash reimbursement based on performance agreement; targeted industries; >125% of county average wage; 75 new jobs over three years; major capital investment; inducement - For more information on application and approval process, click here

Lee County Job Opportunity Program (LCJOP) for High Value Jobs.  Business expansions and locations; 10 + new jobs; $2,000 - $6,000 per new job; targeted industries; >100% of county average wage; cash reimbursement of approved expenditures; also used for 20% match to State QTI; inducement

Bonita Springs Programs:  You can learn more about the Bonita Springs EDC incentive packages here

Cape Coral Programs:  The Cape Coral EDO offers details on their customized business incentives here 

City of Fort Myers Programs:  Details regarding The City of Fort Myers business incentives are available here

State of Florida Incentive Programs:

Qualified Targeted Industry Tax Refund Program (QTI) Business expansions and locations; 10 + new jobs; $3,000 to $8,000 per new job; targeted industries; 115% of county average wage; tax refund; local community must provide 20% match; inducement

Quick-Response Training Grant (QRT) Expansions, locations and existing businesses; customized entry-level skills training not available at the local level; 24 months or less; grant goes directly to company; no restrictions on type of training; 50/50 match

Economic Development Transportation Fund Business expansions and locations; targeted industries; up to $2 million to local municipality for project transportation impediments

Enterprise Bonds (Pooled Activity Bonds) Grouping of smaller, individual project loans; upfront bond financing costs in range of 3.5%-4% of the amount of financing requested; $800,000 to $2.5m or more for acquisition of fixed assets; credit-worthy manufacturers and select non-profit organizations; long-term, tax-exempt, below conventional rate loans

Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) Existing for-profit businesses in Florida for at least one year with one full-time employee; customized training; no minimum wage requirement; grant goes directly to company; no restrictions on type of training, 50/50

Machinery and Equipment Sales Tax Exemption Expanding or locating manufacturers; exempt from sales tax

Sales Tax Exemption on Electricity and SteamExisting or locating manufacturers; machinery and equipment; <75% receives 50% exemption; >75% receives 100% exemption

Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus City of Fort Myers only; tax refund for pre-approved applicant; 20% of average wage of new jobs created, up to maximum of $2,500 per new job; real property, expansion, redevelopment or reuse

Enterprise Zone:

Designated by the state of Florida, an Enterprise Zone is an area targeted for economic revitalization. By investing capital and creating jobs in a Zone, a company can become eligible to receive valuable tax and business incentives from the state while increasing the economic development in the area. There are six specific tax credits available:

  • Job credits for hiring zone residents
  • Community tax contribution credits for cash and specified goods donated to eligible sponsors
  • Property tax credits up to $50,000 for new or rehabilitated commercial construction
  • State tax refunds for business machinery and equipment used exclusively within a Zone
  • State tax refunds for building materials
  • Utility tax exemptions (municipal and state)

The Fort Myers Enterprise Zone:

Florida Enterprise Zones

While many businesses come to Lee County for Corporate Relocation Services, but there are also multiple Bond incentives. These Bonds can help with new business development, and other business costs with long-term, below market rate financing.

Industrial Development Revenue Bonds (IDRBs) provide a source of long-term, below-market-rate financing for new and expanding manufacturing facilities. The recommended minimum is $3 million and the maximum is $10 million, but because the interest for IDRBs is exempt from federal income tax, the interest rate is generally lower than conventional debt financing. Proceeds from IDRBs may be used to finance fixed assets and qualified costs associated with the bond-financed projects.

The Lee County Industrial Development Authority serves as the initial entry point into the Industrial Development Bond application process. Lee County will be able to help with any of the Bond incentives whether you are thinking about assistance with Business Development or Corporate Relocation Services, or Industrial Development.

Enterprise Bonds are pooled, tax-exempt Industrial Development Bonds (IDRBs) which provide a cost-effective means for manufacturers and processors to access public bond markets, particularly for smaller projects that often have limited access to the bond market. The minimum is $500,000 and the maximum is $2.5 million. Fixed interest rates are subject to market conditions, but tax-exempt rates have historically been well below prime.

The Florida Development Finance Corporation of Enterprise Florida, Inc. serves as the initial entry point into the IDRB application process. Information and bond application for an IDRB applicant are available through the Fort Myers Regional Partnership, Lee County's Economic Development Office.

To review the rules and regulations pertaining to IDRBs:  Industrial Development Revenue Bond Guidelines 

For all incentive specific questions, please contact us using the below form:

Contact us - Incentives

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