(1) The Local Government Distressed Area Matching Grant Program is created within the department. The purpose of the program is to stimulate investment in the state’s economy by providing grants to match demonstrated business assistance by local governments to attract and retain businesses in this state.
(2) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Local government” means a county or municipality.
(b) “Qualified business assistance” means economic incentives provided by a local government for the purpose of attracting or retaining a specific business, including, but not limited to, suspensions, waivers, or reductions of impact fees or permit fees; direct incentive payments; expenditures for onsite or offsite improvements directly benefiting a specific business; or construction or renovation of buildings for a specific business.
(3) The department may accept and administer moneys appropriated by the Legislature for providing grants to match expenditures by local governments to attract or retain businesses in this state.
(4) A local government may apply for grants to match qualified business assistance made by the local government for the purpose of attracting or retaining a specific business. A local government may apply for no more than one grant per targeted business. A local government may only have one application pending with the department. Additional applications may be filed after a previous application has been approved or denied.
(5) To qualify for a grant, the business being targeted by a local government must create at least 15 full-time jobs, must be new to this state, must be expanding its operations in this state, or would otherwise leave the state absent state and local assistance, and the local government applying for the grant must expedite its permitting processes for the target business by accelerating the normal review and approval timelines. In addition to these requirements, the department shall review the grant requests using the following evaluation criteria, with priority given in descending order: (a) The presence and degree of pervasive poverty, unemployment, and general distress as determined pursuant to s. 290.0058 in the area where the business will locate, with priority given to locations with greater degrees of poverty, unemployment, and general distress.
(b) The extent of reliance on the local government expenditure as an inducement for the business’s location decision, with priority given to higher levels of local government expenditure.
(c) The number of new full-time jobs created, with priority given to higher numbers of jobs created.
(d) The average hourly wage for jobs created, with priority given to higher average wages.
(e) The amount of capital investment to be made by the business, with priority given to higher amounts of capital investment.
(6) In evaluating grant requests, the department shall take into consideration the need for grant assistance as it relates to the local government’s general fund balance as well as local incentive programs that are already in existence.
(7) Funds made available pursuant to this section may not be expended in connection with the relocation of a business from one community to another community in this state unless the department determines that without such relocation the business will move outside this state or determines that the business has a compelling economic rationale for the relocation which creates additional jobs. Funds made available pursuant to this section may not be used by the receiving local government to supplant matching commitments required of the local government pursuant to other state or federal incentive programs.
(8) Within 30 days after the department receives an application for a grant, the department shall approve a preliminary grant allocation or disapprove the application. The preliminary grant allocation shall be based on estimates of qualified business assistance submitted by the local government and shall equal 50 percent of the amount of the estimated qualified business assistance or $50,000, whichever is less. The preliminary grant allocation shall be executed by contract with the local government. The contract shall set forth the terms and conditions, including the timeframes within which the final grant award will be disbursed. The final grant award may not exceed the preliminary grant allocation. The department may approve preliminary grant allocations only to the extent that funds are appropriated for such grants by the Legislature.
(a) Preliminary grant allocations that are revoked or voluntarily surrendered shall be immediately available for reallocation.
(b) Recipients of preliminary grant allocations shall promptly report to the department the date on which the local government’s permitting and approval process is completed and the date on which all qualified business assistance is completed.
(9) The department shall make a final grant award to a local government within 30 days after receiving information from the local government sufficient to demonstrate actual qualified business assistance. An awarded grant amount shall equal 50 percent of the amount of the qualified business assistance or $50,000, whichever is less, and may not exceed the preliminary grant allocation. The amount by which a preliminary grant allocation exceeds a final grant award shall be immediately available for reallocation.
(10) Up to 2 percent of the funds appropriated annually by the Legislature for the program may be used by the department for direct administrative costs associated with implementing this section.