St. Petersburg needs its business tax exemption | Column
Why we’re voting yes on St. Petersburg referendum question No. 2.
The St. Petersburg skyline looking west from the waterfront 2018.
The St. Petersburg skyline looking west from the waterfront 2018. [ Times (2018) ]
Published Nov. 4, 2022

On Tuesday, our St. Petersburg community will be asked to either vote yes or no on the referendum for the economic development ad valorem tax exemption. The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is in support of the referendum and here’s why.

Chris Steinocher
Chris Steinocher [ St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce ]

This tax exemption is both an incentive tool and investment tool to ensure that our city remains competitive with other local Tampa Bay municipalities that already have this tool in place, and other states that offer incentives that do not currently exist in Florida.

A primary goal of the tax exemption is to benefit local companies by helping them keep and grow well-paying jobs here in St. Petersburg. The granting authority is what’s on the ballot — it is not a blanket or automatic approval to any business pursuing the incentive. The projects will still be vetted and brought to the City Council multiple times to be considered on an individual basis. These incentives are only for five years at the baseline.

Two companies have used the ad valorem tax exemption in the previous 10 years, Jabil and ASI. In that time, the tax exemption has proven its immense value. Both organizations wanted to grow and add additional high paying jobs and were both able to stay in St. Petersburg due to the tax exemption. Jabil added new jobs at an average wage of $95,000, and ASI added new jobs at an average wage of $44,906.

Growing higher wage jobs in this city is important, as is retaining those amazing employers and those jobs here is critical to our long term economy.

The chamber believes that this tax exemption is critical to the continued prosperity those who work in our city. A “yes” vote for Referendum Question No. 2 will ensure that current local businesses can stay and grow in our community, and that new businesses will continue to be attracted to the Sunshine City.

Chris Steinocher is president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.