By Mark A. Trowbridge, President & CEO
Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce
Big things are happening in the great State of Florida!
The state unemployment rate has dropped to 3.6 percent, job growth is higher than the national average and 112.3 million visitors came to The Sunshine State this past year. Most importantly, we are moving our State toward a more competitive and global economy, and businesses are taking notice.
But in order to achieve the goal of becoming the No. 1 destination for business and real estate in the country, the Florida Legislature must continue to support smart policies that create jobs and advance economic opportunity for all Floridians.
Our business climate in Florida must be peerless in terms of regulation and our investment in creating a top-tier workforce requires a relentless pursuit of excellence.
However, there are impediments to us achieving these goals which require significant action, regulatory reform and political will.
Did you know that Florida is the only State in the entire country that forces small businesses to pay an archaic tax on the rent they pay for their storefront?
Known as the business rent tax (BRT), this tax puts all Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage versus the rest of the country. In fact, all Florida businesses must pay a six percent tax on the space they lease, and that number if often higher depending on the municipality the business is located in, such as where our Chamber is located in Miami-Dade County.
This arcane tax costs Florida businesses $1.7 billion every single year and plays a significant role in decision making when businesses look to relocate or expand in our state. It also heavily impacts smaller businesses that may struggle to grow because of the BRT, forcing them to stop hiring, delay expansion or even close their business for good.
While Florida Governor Rick Scott signed House Bill 7109 into law at the conclusion of last session, it included only a modest 0.2 percent BRT reduction. More must be done this session to make Florida the most competitive state in the global economy, our rightful place as a State of 20 million.
The Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Florida Chamber and our realtor association colleagues, believes that a reduction in the business rent tax is good for business and the best course of action during the 2018 Legislative Session.
A full percentage point, or even a smaller, gradual reduction, in the business rent tax would send a clear signal to Florida’s business community – and the rest of our country – that Florida desires to be the top place to grow your business.
Our Chamber’s leadership and membership urge our legislators to support your local business community this session and reduce or eliminate the business rent tax once and for all.