North Port Lowers Impact Fees, Strategy For Growth

The City of North Port is making strides to help shape its economic future.

In an attempt to kick start the local economy, the North Port City Commission recently unanimously decided to adopt lower impact fees to spur new commercial and residential construction in Sarasota County's largest city.

“Because the economy continues to recover at a snails pace, the City of North Port felt that the timing was right to impose a moratorium on its two primary impact fees -- transportation and solid waste -- and reduce all others by 50 percent as a way to further the City's 'open for business' posture, making our community more competitive when it comes to business recruitment and attracting new development projects,” says North Port Economic Development Manager Allan Lane. “The business and development community told us this is the way to go and we believe in private sectors driving growth.”

Overall, this translates to a lower cost associated with building a new home or commercial building in North Port. For example, if the decision to place a moratorium had not been made, a single family home would have cost approximately $4,844.60 in impact fees. Now, with the reduction, a single family home will only cost approximately $1,120.13 in fees. A shopping center with more than 50,000-square-feet will pay a maximum of approximately $675.43 per 1,000 square feet in impact fees versus the approximately $5,994.59 per 1,000 square feet it would have cost before the moratorium was adopted.

“There has never been a better time to relocate to our City or start a construction project in the area,” Lane says. “The impact fee moratorium and reductions represent just one of several enticements the City of North Port offers to attract new businesses and development opportunities. We've been recognized throughout the southwest Florida region for its forward-thinking economic development programs and activities, positioning ourselves as the 'Achieve Anything' city.”

North Port also offers ad valorem property tax exemptions, a local preference ordinance that gives consideration to businesses in North Port and Sarasota County that bid on City contracts, expedited plan review and permitting, a small business assistance program to assist start-up entrepreneurs and existing business owners, economic development grants and financing assistance via a revolving loan guarantee fund.

“It's too soon to show whether or not any new businesses or development opportunities have come to the City specifically because of the moratorium and reduced fees, but I would think we will see some impact by June,” Lane says.

In addition, two public meetings recently took place to gain input on updating the North Port's 2007 Economic Development Strategic Plan. The City will focus strongly on what citizens want for the local community, reshaping North Port's economic future for the next three to five years.

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Allan Lane, City of North Port
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