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East Naples Innovation Zone approved for Collier County

This month, Collier County commissioners approved an East Naples Innovation Zone. It's hoped that the zone will attract economic development to the area, which includes several hundred acres of both developed and vacant land.

The commission first approved the use of these zones back in 2010 to bring higher-paying jobs to the area. However, implementation has been slow. So far, the only one is in Ave Maria.

The county is hoping to diversify the area's economy beyond real estate/construction, hospitality and agriculture, which tend to offer lower-paying jobs. County leaders are seeking to attract manufacturing plants and even corporate headquarters.

Collier County's Director of Business and Economic Development, Jace Kentner, who recommended the East Naples zone, said that "for many years, development has unduly lagged within the industrial and commercial areas near the Interstate 75 and Collier Boulevard intersection." Initially, it's estimated that $120,000 will be available for the East Naples zone development in fiscal year 2020.

Innovation zones are used much the same way as Community Redevelopment Areas -- to increase property values in blighted communities. The increased tax revenue brought in by the higher property values is used to fund projects in the zone.

Developers apply for some of the designated funds for their projects. Kenter says, "Basically, the trust funds can be utilized in any lawful manner which the board determines fosters economic development." He hopes to get more zones approved throughout the area, although specific numbers and locations haven't yet been identified.

The head of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce says, "It's good to see the county recognizing the value of economic development and providing incentives. Any incentives like this are encouraging to businesses that are looking to expand or come into our region."

Developers and business owners who are interested in seeking funds from one of these programs can benefit from the advice and guidance of experienced Florida commercial real estate attorneys. Sound legal advice can make commercial real estate transactions go more smoothly and reduce the chances of potential legal, regulatory or zoning issues.

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