Today, EDC Chair Brian O’Connor hosted Governor Crist at Lockheed Martin’s Ocala Operations as he signed House Bill 127 that designates Ocala/Marion County as an Enterprise Zone. The bill passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. House Speaker Larry Cretul and Representatives Kurt Kelly and Charles Chestnut were on hand to witness the signing. This legislation is another bold step that will assist with recovery efforts.
The Governor stated he was pleased to be at Lockheed, a company that represents free enterprise - the ingredient that truly builds our economy. Crist also quoted a former president saying, “The business of America IS business…it’s about free enterprise creating jobs, like the 700 people working here.”
HB 127 designates areas in Ocala/Marion County as targets for economic revitalization. These Enterprise Zones will encourage economic growth and investment by offering tax advantages and incentives to businesses locating within the zone boundaries.
Speaker of the House Larry Cretul seemed pleased to be “Home” in Ocala/Marion County. “You know, it’s great to be here at this facility. I remember a lot of work in my days as County Commissioner working with the EDC and Pete Tesch to get projects going here.”
Representatives Kurt Kelly and Charles Chestnut provided bipartisan leadership in co-sponsoring the bill. Kelly spoke at the signing, “We tried hard to pass this last year and couldn’t get it through…I told Representative Chestnut, ‘You take the D side, I’ll take the R side and what we can’t get, we’ll call on the Speaker (Larry Cretul) to get for us’…This is the way government should work - both sides working together to do what’s best for our residents.”
Representative Chestnut added, “This will provide the incentives needed to create jobs and revitalize areas like West Ocala , Downtown and the Magnolia District.”
EDC President/CEO Pete Tesch looks forward to the end result of the legislation. “We know companies are putting some strategic moves on hold until the economy becomes more stable. By enacting this legislation now, we are furthering our efforts to be ready when those moves and expansions commence. We are appreciative for the collaboration between our City and County governments and their efforts to reach out to the State to take some bold steps in the right direction.”
Crist also signed House Bill 7031, relating to economic development; Senate Bill 485, relating to fast track economic stimulus for small businesses; and Senate Bill 360, relating to growth management.