Guest Blogger: Margo Thomas, Marlynn Consulting Group, LLC
In order to successfully navigate the economic incentives process, you must first understand the different phases associated with the economic incentive project.
Phase #1 – Incentive Interest & Research
During this stage, the following activities are undertaken by a business:
- Recognizes the need to expand or relocate;
- Identifies area for growth;
- Researches available incentives locally and statewide;
Phase #2 – Application Phase
During the Application stage, the following activities are performed by the business:
- Approaches local government to solicit support;
- Prepares internal reports to determine if minimum qualifications are met;
- Prepares incentive application and supporting documents;
- Submits incentive application and supporting documents to Enterprise Florida (EFI);
- Forwards project application to The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for approval
Phase #3 – Approval Phase
During the Approval process, DEO reviews EFI’s recommendation and determines whether to award an incentive project. The following activities are performed:
- After the project has been reviewed by DEO for viability, the project is considered for approval.
- Commonly asked questions include whether the project is creating high-wage or high-skilled jobs, or if the project will benefit the local community.
- If the project is approved, the business then negotiates an agreement with DEO.
Phase #4 – Incentive Management
The contract administration phase addresses the performance requirements of the executed incentive agreement. This phase determines whether a business is eligible to receive its scheduled payments. To guarantee a successful incentive project, a business must perform the following activities:
- Assign a Project Manager to lead incentive management efforts.
- THOROUGHLY READ AND UNDERSTAND the terms and conditions of the incentive agreement.
- Manage and document the compliance functions of the incentive project.
- Track incentive goals to ensure it is on target.
- Prepare periodic reports documenting that the incentive commitments have been met.
Sadly, many businesses neglect this phase. Unfortunately, when the time comes to provide the annual reports, the Project Manager becomes overwhelmed and frustrated. It is at this stage where some businesses lose the opportunity to receive the scheduled payments awarded under their incentive project.
Phase #5 – Monitoring
An on-site audit is required for most economic incentive projects. The following activities are performed on behalf of the State:
- Business is notified of a scheduled audit.
- An on-site audit review of the incentive requirements is conducted.
- Reports are prepared and submitted to DEO for review.
- If it is determined that the business did not meet the requirements to receive the scheduled payments, DEO may request return of the incentive funds, plus a penalty.
Phase #6 – Project Closeout
Once a business has received all of its scheduled payments, the following activities are performed to close the project:
- Verify that all required documents have been received and reviewed (e.g. Single Audit)
- Verify that all monitoring reviews have been completed and approved by DEO.
- Prepare final report and recommend project closeout.
Brief Background About the Margo:
Margo Thomas is the owner of Marlynn Consulting, where she helps businesses successfully manage Florida incentive projects for the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) Tax Refund and Quick Action Closing Fund (Closing Fund) programs. As the former Project Manager for Florida’s incentive programs like QTI and Closing Fund, she has analyzed jobs, wage and tax data on behalf of the State of Florida for almost ten years. She has assisted in analyzing and confirming over 50,000 Florida jobs and has recommended over $200 million in tax credits and refund payments. Mrs. Thomas also helps local businesses reduce their training costs by up to 50% utilizing the Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) Grants.