Oviedo lures business

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The average wage in Seminole County may have fallen nearly two percent since April 2010, but the Oviedo City Council is hoping to reverse that trend and bring new businesses and jobs to the city in the process.

“We need to find businesses and bring them here,” Councilman Steve Henken said.

At an April 16 meeting the Council passed a change that would quadruple the amount of businesses they’d throw economic incentives at if they relocate to the city. They also proposed a slew of new incentive programs to try to bring in even more jobs.

As of April 2010, when Oviedo first proposed a jobs growth incentive (JGI) program to lure new jobs to the city, the average wage in the county was $38,434, according to economic growth organization Enterprise Florida. In the nearly two years that the city waited for that program to find any takers, average wages fell to $37,966, forcing the city to revise its figures to try to draw in high-paying businesses.

In order to hook businesses that pay livable salaries, the JGI program would only give money to businesses that paid a minimum of 80 percent of the county’s average salary, with tiered incentives for hiring at 115 percent, 150 percent and 200 percent of the average pay. And money is already waiting, Assistant City Manager Bryan Cobb said.

“Since 2007 the city has annually allocated monies into an account to set aside in case we had a business come in that we could use financial assistance for,” he said.

The incentives could add up to between $800 and $2,000 per job created, depending on salary. Coupled with other incentive programs, Mayor Dominic Persampiere said he hoped to make the city more competitive against other cities.

“Without it we’re at an economic disadvantage,” he said.

But the Council talked about going even further. Cross-country business trips don’t normally pervade Oviedo City Council discussions, but discussion on the dais seemed more like the board of a corporation looking to diversify.

“If businesses are thinking about moving from California, New York, Louisiana, then let’s go there,” Henken said. “Let’s go tell the story. That’s how you get business. There’s businesses all over this country that don’t know how good this city is or how much we’ve accomplished.”