What is Economic Development

May 21, 2013

To understand I must first ask you to define “economic development”. I assure you that every person will answer in a different way. That is why the idea of economic development causes so much discussion, debate and controversy. Economic development is not a simple noun to define that you can see, feel and touch. Economic development is a spirit; it is a thing you build in your heart because you want what is best for your community. You chase after it like the wind, changing in every direction just beyond your grasp. Economic development is not simple. Economic Development is not easy. Economic development requires perseverance; it requires strength, wisdom and patience. We may not agree on the definition of economic development but we must work together to encourage one another and then we will accomplish great things and future generations will decide if what we  achieved was economic development. Below are definitions that will help you differentiate between organizations and projects.  

EDC- The Economic Development Council recruits businesses to present to the IDA. The EDC serves as the liaison between businesses and the IDA with the staff acting as the administrators for the IDA board.  This year the EDC has received the majority of its funding from grants.

IDA- The Industrial Development Authority receives funding from the Mosaic Agreement and EDA grants.  The Authority also owns the Commerce Park and, therefore, generates revenue from Park transactions.  The IDA, a 12 person board appointed by the County Commissioners, incentivizes businesses that will benefit Hardee County. Appointment or removal of board members is the extent of oversight the County Commissioners have over the IDA board. 

EDA- The Economic Development Authority receives funding generated by the phosphate severance taxes. The County Manager acts as the administrator for the EDA. The EDA board ranks grant applicants and gives incentives on a reimbursement basis for infrastructure, job creation and economic development. The board is comprised of representatives from the Chamber, Workforce, Farm Bureau, phosphate industry, department of economic opportunity, two at large appointed by the BOCC and two from the three cities.  EDA functions as per Florida Statute.

EDO- The Economic Development Office houses the IDA, EDC, Community Redevelopment Agency, Main Street Wauchula, and Chamber of Commerce. All of these organizations are committed to economic development and are able to help one another.

Mosaic Agreement- In 2008 Mosaic Co., owned or controlled approximately 20% of the surface right in the area, making Mosaic the largest landowner in Hardee County. The County also lies within the area designated as the South Central Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern (“RACEC”) by the State of Florida pursuant to Section 288.0565 (7) F.S. (2007). As a significant landowner in Hardee County, Mosaic has long term plans for mining activities on its landholdings in a large geographical section of Hardee County. The County recognized the positive economic impacts and conditions created by Mosaic’s continued presence in the County. Yet, Mosaic also recognized that the County needs to be prepared for the continued economic utility and diversity for former phosphate mined lands once mining activities have ceased in the County. Therefore, Mosaic has agreed to contribute $42 Million to the IDA over a 10 year period to fund economic development and diversity.

Commerce Park- The Hardee County Commerce Park is owned by the IDA and has been the main focus for relocating businesses to Hardee County because of the availability of shovel ready sites that include water, wastewater and broadband infrastructure.

TechRiver- TechRiver has been developed as a technology park by the IDA to foster the growing industry. Space is available for multiple technology businesses to locate. TechRiver creates an ecosystem to cultivate the technology industry in Hardee County.                          .

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