Q. What are the most active areas of growth for technology in Florida?
A. Unique information technology (IT) clusters have formed in the state as a result of a strong, ongoing cooperation between research institutions, businesses, and industry organizations. Innovative modeling and simulation or digital media companies can easily find a regional or statewide industry organization that supports their interests. One such example is the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, which is a partnership among the University of Central Florida, the University of South Florida, University of Florida, principals of top high-tech companies, and economic development organizations that help promote the growth of the high-tech industry in the 23-county region served by the three universities. The iCoast organization, on the other hand, supports the South Florida information technology cluster. This collection of Internet companies and organizations work together to foster Internet and technology growth. The iCoast has become a supporting backbone for the IT industry in South Florida.
Florida is committed to building a world-class biotechnology sector by investing in research facilities, fostering the growth of local biotech companies, and welcoming progressive newcomers to the state such as Scripps Research Institute, Burnham Institute for Medical Research, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, Max Planck Institute, and the Oregon Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.
Q. Does a specific project stand out in your mind because of its economic impact?
A. Recently, Channel Intelligence, producer of online consumer-decision databases for companies that do business over the Web, announced that they will spend $33 million to expand the 29,000-square-foot Celebration headquarters by 125,000 square feet. In addition, they will create 420 local jobs with an average wage of $55,400, which is 200 percent higher than the county's current average wage.
Q. What incentives are targeted specifically towards encouraging technology development?
A. All our incentive programs strive to encourage technology development. In particular, research and development equipment is sales tax exempt. The equipment purchaser simply submits a short affidavit to the equipment vendor so there is no wait for refunds. The Capital Investment Tax Credit also encourages investment in new technology by providing a corporate income tax credit for high-impact industries investing at least $25 million and creating 100 jobs. In addition, this past legislative session the Qualified Defense Contractor program was expanded to include space technology projects.