The Business Development Board of Martin County can focus more on recruiting high-paying businesses because the commission has provided some incentives to offer to companies, the group’s executive director said Tuesday.
“We are now shifting into a mode where we can begin much more active recruitment, now that we have the tools, now that we have the funds,” Ron Bunch, the board’s executive director, told the commissioners.
The commission doubled the Business Development Board’s budget to $625,000 for the recently completed 2009-2010 budget year, Bunch said.
The commission also established new rules to speed up building permits, provide financial incentives and reduce or defer impact fees to promote economic development. In addition, voters in the Aug. 24 primary gave the commission the authority to grant property tax abatements to companies that expand or relocate in Martin County.
Brochures have been created to show top executives in the life science and marine industries why they should set up shop in Martin County, Bunch said. And business board officials attended two business recruitment events to meet consultants that advise companies seeking to relocate.
Ten companies are on track to create a total of 1,182 jobs during the next three years with help from the Business Development Board, Bunch said.
“It’s something we want to build upon and continue to improve,” Bunch said.
The BDB has also created a committee of business experts to advise local business executives, Bunch said. And the board hopes to enlist captains of industry who live in the county’s affluent enclaves to lend their expertise and contacts to the efforts to promote economic development.
The board has also tapped Workforce Solutions and Indian River State College to help provide qualified workers to companies, Bunch said.
Martin County has an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent with 7,858 people out of work, BDB statistics show.
George Fox, of the GiftRAP Corp., which makes computer software for the nursing home industry nationwide, said his company has five openings and is having difficulty finding qualified workers.
“Our biggest challenge is finding employees that can work for us in Martin County,” Fox said. “Realistically, we can’t find all the employees we need in Martin County. Because of that, we’ve been considering expansion outside of the state. The business board has been helpful in encouraging us not to do that and encouraging us to find solutions here.”