A Florida state senator is using her seat on the Enterprise Florida board to lobby for more incentives for boating companies that expand or relocate in Florida.
Sen. Nancy Detert told the Bradenton Herald newspaper it's a step that should have occurred years ago before boatbuilders and their ancillary businesses left for states such as North Carolina that levy fewer taxes.
“We have made some changes, but it was after the horse left the barn," Detert said. "We need to focus on the marine industry as one of our main economic drivers."
During the last few years, Detert said, the legislature has taken steps to make the state more business-friendly for maritime companies, including a measure to erase the taxes tied to boat materials so a manufacturer is taxed only on the final product.
Detert hopes to propel growth in the industry with a proposal for Florida to add the marine sector to its list of Qualified Target Industries, which benefit from higher incentives to relocate or expand in the state, largely because of the quality of jobs they offer.
Target industry companies are eligible for a number of tax breaks on corporate income, property, sales and even insurance premiums.
The state's target industries include manufacturing, life sciences, distribution, defense and aviation, among others. As it now stands, boating companies are not included.
"This should be one of our jewels," Detert said. "We need to be more specific in going after the market."