Common Mistakes Companies Make With Their Incentive Projects

Guest blogger: Margo Thomas, owner, Marlynn Consulting

Thousands of Florida’s businesses participate in economic development incentive programs. Many of these businesses succeed in proving to the State that they have met their incentive project commitments and are eligible to receive their scheduled payments (reimbursements, credits, refunds, etc.). However, the reality is that many businesses do not receive their scheduled payments because they are unable to successfully prove to the State that they meet their required commitments. The following are major mistakes businesses make with their incentive projects:

1. Not Tracking Project Commitments – Incentive projects are often negotiated with little consideration of how the project’s benchmarks would be monitored. Unfortunately, many businesses are caught off guard when they do not monitor their project goals. They realize when their report is due that they did not meet their project benchmarks. For example, the 2011 deadline for reporting QTI (Qualified Target Industry) Tax Credit program results is January 2012. If the company waits to analyze its jobs, wage and tax goals the company may be surprised that it missed one or more of those goals.

Based on my experience as the former Project Manager for the QTI program, I believe it is best to track your project goals throughout the year.

2. Lack of Communication – When an incentive project is approved, it should be assigned to a Project Manager to ensure that the project goals are being tracked.  Communication of what is required to qualify for the schedule payments is extremely important. However, in many cases, the project is assigned at the last minute with little or no instructions.

The person who will be responsible for the project’s management should be involved early in the project’s life-cycle to ensure successful monitoring and reporting of the incentive project’s commitments.

3. Inexperienced Project Manager – In order to receive incentive payments, a business must prove that it has met its incentive project’s goals. If the person assigned to monitor and report your incentive project goals is not sure how to perform these tasks, you may have a difficult time proving to the State that you met your project’s commitments.

For projects like QTI, monitoring and reporting your jobs, wage and tax goals are not difficult.  However, if your Project Manager has no experience with this type of program, it would be best to provide the tools and skills required to successfully track and report your QTI project commitments.

4. Inadequate Documentation – The reporting process of an incentive project is extremely important, as this process determines if a business will receive its scheduled payments.  It is your responsibility to prove to the State that you are eligible to receive your incentive payments. What this means is, you must provide adequate documents to support that your company has successfully met your incentive project goals.

Unfortunately, many businesses either provide inadequate supporting documents or they do not submit any documentation at all. This often causes a delay on the approval of the business’ scheduled payment.

Margo Thomas is the owner of Marlynn Consulting, where she helps businesses to manage their Florida incentive projects. As the former Project Manager for Florida’s incentive programs like QTI, she has analyzed jobs, wage and tax data on behalf of the State for almost ten years. She has assisted in confirming over 50,000 Florida jobs and recommending over $200 million in tax credits and refund payments.

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