Highlands County is an incredibly supportive area that is committed to advancing its business community. In addition to the incentives listed below, its leaders are committed to developing creative approaches to assist new businesses in locating in Highlands County as well as support our existing businesses expand. Contact Highlands County Economic Development to discuss your individual project needs.
Ad Valorem Tax Exemption:
For qualifying businesses, an exemption for up to 100 percent of the County Ad Valorem taxation for improvements to real property made by or for the use of a new or expanding business and of all tangible personal property for the business. Exemptions may be granted for a period of up to 10 years. Contact our office for more information. (863) 402-6906 or EconomicDevelopment@highlandsfl.gov.
Foreign Trade Zone:
The Sebring Regional Airport and Commerce Park’s Foreign Trade Zone No. 215 assists companies located throughout all of Highlands County to streamline the process and minimize the costs associated with qualified importing, exporting, manufacturing and distribution activities. Goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of the customs authorities. Only when the goods are moved to consumers within the country in which the zone is located do they become subject to the prevailing customs duties. Find out more at sebring-airport.com/ftz/.
Governor Designated Area of Opportunity:
The Governor designated Highlands County as a “Rural Area of Opportunity.” Florida encourages growth throughout the state by offering increased incentive awards and lower wage qualification thresholds in its rural counties. Additionally, a Rural Community Development Revolving Loan Fund and Rural Infrastructure Fund exist to meet the special needs that businesses encounter in rural counties.
C-PACE: Commercial - Property Assessed Clean Energy
Property Assessed Clean Energy for commercial/industrial projects, or C-PACE for short, is a financing mechanism that enables low-cost, long-term funding for energy effieciency, renewable energy, wind mitigation, and water conservation projects.
PACE financing is going to be complementary to senior lender money and can replace mezzanine debt or some of the equity piece as well. It’s “off-balance sheet” nature helps with strategic allocation of capital upfront without the need for “value-engineering” out high-performance features and its long-term fixed rate attributes enable competitive performance over the lifetime of the project. In this new construction scenario, PACE can cover soft, ancillary and hard costs associated with a project up to roughly 25% of the “as-stabilized” value. For more information, visit https://info.counterpointesre.com/highlands_pace.
Community Redevelopment Agencies:
Several Community Redevelopment Agencies have been established throughout the county to offer support and encourage development in the areas. Support may be available by way of façade and event grants, restaurant incentives, financial incentives, and more. Visit the respective Sebring, Avon Park, and Sebring Airport district sites for more information.
Workforce Training Grants & Tax Credits:
CareerSource Heartland, the county’s innovative partnership for workforce training, provides a number of programs to help existing and new companies recruit, train, and maintain cutting-edge skills and keep pace with new technologies. Visit CareerSourceHeartland.com for full details about available employer training grants.
Employed Worker Training:
The Employed Worker Program can help a current employee obtain the skills necessary to become more productive; improving their opportunity for advancement within a company. This customized training may be provided to a single employee or group of employees. Maximum amount per business is $50,000.
OJT is provided for eligible candidates who have been hired by the employer following an agreement with CareerSource Heartland that the employer will provide the occupational training. In exchange, the employer can recoup up to 50 percent of the wages paid to the participant during the training period.
Incumbent Worker Training Grant:
The Incumbent Worker Training Program provides grant funding for training currently employed workers. The program is available to businesses that have been in operation for at least one year and require skills upgrade training for existing employees.
Quick Response Training:
The Quick Response Training Program provides grant funding for customized training for new or expanding businesses that produce an exportable product or service. Companies must be creating full-time, high-quality jobs requiring specialized training that is not available in the local community. Reimbursable expenses under the program include instructor wages, curriculum development, and textbooks/manuals.
Florida offers bottom-line advantages for long term profitability for all types of businesses, from corporate headquarters to manufacturing plants to service firms. Enterprise Florida is the principal economic development agency for the state. Visit enterpriseflorida.com for full details on the state incentives listed below. Credit: Enterprise Florida.
Rural Jobs Tax Credit:
For eligible business, a $1,000 tax credit for each qualified employee, up to $500,000 in tax credits for job creation per calendar year. Find out more at Floridajobs.org.
Qualified Defense Contractor Tax Refund:
The Florida Qualified Defense Contractor program is provided to encourage the location and expansion of defense industries in the state. Pre-approved applicants creating or retaining jobs in Florida may receive tax refunds of $6,000 per net new Florida full-time equivalent job created or retained. For businesses paying 150 percent of the average annual wage, add $1,000 per job; for businesses paying 200 percent of the average annual salary, add $2,000 per job.
Capital Investment Tax Credit:
This is an annual credit, provided for up to twenty years, against the corporate income tax. Eligible projects are those in designated high-impact portions of the following sectors: advanced manufacturing, clean energy, biomedical technology, financial services, information technology, silicon technology, transportation equipment manufacturing, or be a corporate headquarters facility. Projects must also create a minimum of 100 jobs and invest at least $25 million in eligible capital costs. Eligible capital costs include all expenses incurred in the acquisition, construction, installation, and equipping of a project from the beginning of construction to the commencement of operations.
High Impact Performance Incentive Grant:
The High Impact Performance Incentive is a negotiated grant used to attract and grow major high impact facilities in Florida. Eligible projects must: operate within designated high-impact portions of the following sectors– advanced manufacturing, clean energy, corporate headquarters, financial services, life sciences, semiconductors, and transportation equipment manufacturing; create at least 50 new full-time equivalent jobs (if a R&D facility, create at least 25 new full-time equivalent jobs) in a three-year period; and make a cumulative investment in the state of at least $50 million (if a R&D facility, make a cumulative investment of at least $25 million) in a three-year period.
Florida offers incentives to businesses that locate on a brownfield site with a Brownfield Site Rehabilitation Agreement (BSRA). The Brownfield Redevelopment Bonus Refund is available to encourage Brownfield redevelopment and job creation. Approved applicants receive tax refunds of up to $2,500 for each job created.
State of Florida Tax Advantages
Florida ranks among the best states for business and entrepreneurs because of its pro-business tax policies and competitive cost of doing business. Your business dollars go further given the State's limited corporate taxes and no personal income tax. Florida offers nine tax exemptions related to machinery and equipment. Contact our office to discuss opportunties for your business. For online browsing, full details on the programs at floridarevenue.com.
Sales and Use Tax Exemption on Electricity and Steam:
Charges for electricity used directly and exclusively at a fixed location to operate machinery and equipment that is used to manufacture, process, compound, or produce items of tangible personal property for sale, or to operate pollution control equipment, recycling equipment, maintenance equipment, or monitoring or control equipment used in such operations, may be exempt from the sales tax.
Sales and Use Tax Exemption on Machinery and Equipment:
Tax exemption award to aid new and expanding businesses that use machinery and equipment at a particular location to manufacture, process, compound, or produce tangible personal property for sale or for exclusive use in spaceport activities.
Sales and Use Tax Exemption on Machinery and Equipment Used for Research and Development:
This tax exemption is available to help foster innovation through the state. Under this exemption, machinery and equipment used predominantly for reasearch and development are exempt from sales and use tax.
Infrastructure & Utility Support
Economic Development Transportation Fund:
The Economic Development Transportation Fund, commonly referred to as the "Road Fund," is an incentive tool designed to alleviate transportation problems that adversely impact a specific company's location or expansion decision. The award amount is based on the number of new and retained jobs and the eligible transportation project costs, up to $3 million. The award is made to the local government on behalf of a specific business for public transportation improvements.
Rural Infrastructure Fund:
Rural Infrastructure Fund Grant facilitates the planning, preparing, and financing of traditional economic development or nature-based tourism infrastructure projects that encourage job creation and capital investment in rural communities. The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) may award up to 40 percent of total costs for catalyst site projects (Sebring Regional Airport), and no more than 30 percent of total costs for projects in rural counties that are not located on designated catalyst sites.
Duke Energy offers a variety of competitive rates for business and industry as well as various service schedules to match your company’s energy profile, including time-of-use choices. Additionally, an economic development rider is available for qualifying customers to reduce costs even further. Duke Energy also helps businesses manage their energy bills by offering low-cost, energy-saving inspections available for new construction and retrofit projects. Visit Duke Energy's economic development site for more information.
Commercial/Industrial Service Rider (CISR)
Requires a minimum 500 kW of new load or retention of 500 kW existing load for Florida customers whose current load is less than 10,000 kW.
In order to qualify, candidates must provide documentation showing they have a viable lower-cost alternative to taking electric service from Duke Energy.
Qualifying applicants will receive a discounted electric rate calculated on a case-by-case basis.
Qualifying applicants must sign a contract with Duke Energy (term to be negotiated).
Economic Development Rider
500 kW demand or greater* (≥50% LF)
Five-year declining discount on demand and energy charges
25 new jobs or $500,000 capital investment
Existing or new construction
Significant factor in company decision
350 kW demand or greater* (≥50% LF)
Three-year declining discount on demand, energy and non-fuel charges
15 new jobs or $200,000 capital investment
Building unoccupied/dormant for ≥90 days (no affiliation with previous owner)
Significant factor in company decision