State program may benefit local companies

Governor Crist’s office has outlined for Historic City News the economic stimulus plan targeting Florida’s small businesses that may benefit local companies amidst the economic downturn affecting Florida and the nation.

The Governor in continuing his commitment to Florida’s economy, met with economic development organization leaders to discuss his Economic Stimulus Plan targeting small Florida-based companies with high growth potential through small loans and business support services. The aim is to give these small businesses the resources and incentives they need to expand and create new jobs now, even

“Now more than ever, our small businesses need the resources to grow and reach their full potential,” said Governor Crist, who hosted the economic development group as part of Tallahassee Tuesdays. “By helping them build their futures now with a modest investment of taxpayer dollars, we can plant the seeds that our homegrown businesses need to flourish. The result of this pioneering approach will be new jobs and a stronger Sunshine State economy for present and future generations of Floridians.”

The Governor’s plan is two-pronged and would require a state investment of no more than $10 million. A loan pilot program of $8.5 million would support small businesses with between 10 and 99 employees that meet certain characteristics showing high growth potential. The loans, not to exceed $250,000 per business, would be used for capital purchases, employee training and salaries for new jobs. In addition, the Governor’s plan calls for $1.5 million for economic stimulus. This economic infrastructure will assist small businesses so they can grow and prosper.

“This plan explores a highly complementary strategy to the state’s economic development platform,” said Dale Brill, Executive Director of the Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED). “We can seize the opportunity now to begin long-term and powerful growth among Florida’s high-potential small businesses.”

Florida began exploring the Economic Stimulus Plan with the Governor’s Blueprint for Florida’s Innovation Economy, which called for greater emphasis on nurturing homegrown businesses. In Spring 2008, OTTED initiated Project Green Jeans, an unfunded economic gardening pilot project with economic development organizations in Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties. The Governor’s Economic Stimulus Plan is a by-product of Project Green Jeans, as well as a recommendation derived from the Governor’s Accelerate Florida think tank on small, minority, and manufacturing business.

The Governor’s Economic Stimulus Plan focuses on growth strategies to expand locally based, small businesses. It is an economic development approach based on research and real-world applications showing that a small group of high-growth, high-potential businesses can generate a large number of new sustainable jobs, and that the primary role of government in supporting these businesses is to cultivate a business environment responsive to the growth needs of this rapidly growing business segment. Littleton, Colo., successfully implemented this economic strategy starting in 1987, and between 1990 and 2005 saw an employment growth rate of 135 percent – compared to 47.2 percent for the state of Colorado and 21.4 percent nationwide.

Research has proven that small, established businesses have the highest potential for growth and new jobs creation. Data shows that between 1997 and 2007, 17 percent of the new jobs created in Florida came from small businesses that expanded, exceeding the new jobs created by newly opened businesses or companies that relocate to Florida. Between 2005 and 2007, just eight percent all Florida establishments were small companies with 10 to 99 employees. Yet those companies created nearly 36 percent of the new jobs during that period.

For more information about the Governor’s plan, go to

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