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Economic Development

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The North Florida region uses an approach to economic development focusing on planning and decision-making at the local level. The public and private sector leaders in Bradford County, Union County and Southwest Clay County know the importance of successful and continued improvement and expansion. All understand the value of bringing new industry and services to the area, while at the same time providing support and growth opportunities for existing businesses. They manage the responsibility well.

Higher paying jobs, more disposable spending, increased capital investment and additional tax revenues generated without tax increases have many meaningful effects in a community. These can include a dramatic reduction in poverty, accessible and better healthcare, impressive public schools, and an overall improvement in the quality of life.

Economic development is alive and well in North Florida. One of the ways the region expands its opportunities to the maximum is to effectively utilize technical and financial assistance programs offered in conjunction with the state and federal governments.

The Florida Governor's Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development (OTTED) administers the Florida Enterprise Program. At the local level, Enterprise Florida, a statewide economic development agency, works in partnership with the North Florida area. Enterprise zones, specific geographical areas targeted for economic revitalization, encourage growth and investment in distressed areas by offering tax advantages and incentives to businesses. This agency also takes an active role in proposing legislation that will improve and enhance the economy.

In 1985, Florida adopted the Main Street model to revitalize downtown districts. On August 26, 2005, The Florida Secretary of State designated Starke as an official Main Street Community. This brought two years of intensive training and technical assistance from the statewide program to support local revitalization and historic preservation efforts. In just a few years, Main Street Starke initiated 28 revitalization projects, 21 of which were rehabilitations. More than $7 million has been reinvested downtown, and several new businesses have opened, in turn creating many new jobs. Main Street Starke hosts four large events per year, one being the very popular Strawberry Festival in April.

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The Bradford County Tourist Development Council is another local agency working to improve economic development. Its mission is to promote and advertise tourism in the region. The Council funds visitor and convention bureaus, information centers and news bureaus, and also provides for events and operating facilities. Starke and Bradford County serve as the local office of the Florida Film Commission, which attracts many film and video productions and further benefits the economy of the area. For more information, please call (904) 964-5278.

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