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Tallahassee Democrat: Mike Williams- Industry is looking for relief from taxes

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Manufacturing is making a comeback in this country.

With this industry’s resurgence is an opportunity to breathe new life into Florida’s economy and job market. Every dollar we invest in manufacturing creates $1.43 of activity in related sectors. Manufacturing also typically generates 2.5 indirect jobs in related industries for every one direct job. And, most manufacturing jobs are high-wage jobs that pay above the state average. That’s a significant return on investment and one that creates opportunities for growth in many sectors across the state.

However, Florida manufacturers are at a disadvantage compared with competitors in other states, and that disadvantage has limited the industry’s ability to create jobs and generate revenue. Onerous state taxes and regulations are working against the industry’s economic development potential.

Florida is one of only nine states that imposes sales tax on the purchase of manufacturing machinery and equipment. While 90 percent of all Florida exports come from manufacturing, we rank 44th in the nation in terms of the percentage of the workforce employed in manufacturing.

Fortunately, Gov. Rick Scott and members of the Florida Legislature have proposed remedies that will unburden Florida manufacturers. The Governor’s proposal to eliminate sales taxes on the purchase of manufacturing machinery and equipment would free up $141 million for manufacturers to use to hire more employees, expand their facilities and make other capital investments. It also will put Florida on a level playing field with other states and competitors all over the world. Not only will it help to keep existing manufacturing businesses here in the Sunshine State, but it also will attract new businesses that may not have previously considered Florida as a location because of the higher taxes.

This proposal is supported in the Senate through Sen. Dorothy Hukill’s SB 518 and in the House by Rep. MaryLynn Magar (HB 391).

In addition, Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Jim Boyd have filed bills to establish the Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, which helps to eliminate red tape and streamline the approval process for the construction of new or expansion of existing manufacturing facilities. By expediting state agencies’ review of permit applications and establishing local government programs for approving development sites, Florida will be better positioned to vie for more manufacturing business.

To ensure Florida remains a competitor in manufacturing and industry, we must rethink the way our state treats its manufacturing businesses.

By eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing equipment purchases, we give Florida manufacturers the resources they need to thrive, grow and further contribute to Florida’s economic well being. Reducing burdensome taxes and regulations currently imposed on Florida’s manufacturers will provide an incentive for new business to come to Florida. Bringing business to Florida helps families, local economies and our state as a whole.

As a Florida manufacturer, PotashCorp-White Springs thanks Gov. Scott, Sen. Hukill, Rep. Magar, Sen. Galvano and Rep. Boyd for their efforts to support our industry.

We encourage the Legislature to eliminate manufacturing equipment sales tax bills and pass the Manufacturing Competitiveness Act so we can add strength and stability to our manufacturing industry, making our state a powerful competitor in the United States and abroad.

Mike Williams is public affairs manager for PotashCorp-White Springs, a fertilizer manufacturer located in Hamilton County.

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