By a nearly 2-1 ratio, voters have approved a ballot measure designed to entice businesses to set up shop in Pinellas County.
Sixty-three percent of voters backed Tuesday's lone referendum, paving the way for tax breaks for businesses that locate here or expand within the county.
"It's a very positive thing," said Mike Meidel, the economic development director for Pinellas County. "It gives us more flexibility and makes us more competitive with the surrounding area."
The measure, which the County Commission unanimously voted to place on the ballot in June, allows business owners to deduct for new tangible property including buildings, computers and equipment.
State law allows counties and cities to grant tax exemptions to eligible businesses. Criteria include the number of employees, which varies depending on the nature of the business, and offering wages that exceed the local average.
Hillsborough and Sarasota counties already have similar incentives in place. In the last few years, the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Largo and Clearwater have followed suit.
The County Commission would still need to approve any agreements with each business before those tax breaks can take effect, Meidel said.