Gulf Power offering perk for new businesses in old buildings
PANAMA CITY, May 12, 2012 (Menafn - The News Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Those looking for a location for a new business might want to add another item to the list of criteria they take into consideration: how long it has been vacant.
Gulf Power Co. has a new incentive program to encourage businesses to locate in buildings that have been unoccupied for at least 12 months.
The Building Re-Occupancy Incentive Program provides a one-time cash incentive of about 10 to 15 percent of annual electricity costs. The exact amount is based on the building's type and size.
"We're trying to give new businesses a good incentive to come to our service territory" and occupy an existing empty building, said Natalie Smith of Gulf Power.
"Unoccupied properties can lead to building obsolescence and blight," according to program information distributed by the power company. The project is expected to increase economic viability of cities in the region.
To be eligible, the building must have been unoccupied for at least a year and have a minimum of 10,000 square feet of air-conditioned space.
The business owner must lease the building for at least 12 months or purchase the building.
Those who participate in the program must be opening a new location or, if it is a relocation, there must be "significant expansion," according to program eligibility requirements.
Earlier this week, Pete Bailey of Gulf Power explained the program to the Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which plans to promote the program to those considering opening businesses.
"It could have a very positive impact on the downtown and other CRA areas where we have vacant buildings," said CRA Director William Whitson. "And this could be used as an additional carrot and an additional incentive on top of the grant programs and things we have to draw interest to maybe revitalizing some of these areas."
The program was rolled out May 1, so there isn't yet information on how well it has been received, Smith said.
Whitson said he mentioned it along with CRA grants to someone who was considering opening a business in one of the city's CRAs and "their eyes lit up."
The CRA offers commercial facade improvement and job creation grants.
"I think it's a great partnership opportunity and we're excited we can partner with Gulf Power, and I hope great things can come from it," he said.
___ (c)2012 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.) Visit The News Herald (Panama
City, Fla.) at www.newsherald.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
Copyright (C) 2012, The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.