The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce exists to enhance the business environment and promote economic health and growth in the Clearwater region. We work with the City of Clearwater’s Economic Development and Housing Department to help improve and expand the economic base of the City of Clearwater through the retention and expansion of existing businesses, the attraction of new businesses and real estate investments, and the attraction of a quality residential base.
Underlying this quality residential base is an established regional inventory of manufacturing, information technologies, marine sciences, medical technologies and financial service industries; and a stable and growing retail service sector ranging from small boutiques to major shopping centers.
Clearwater, similar to other urban cities within the Tampa Bay Region, has reached capacity development with few tracts of vacant land available. Fortunately, however, a substantial portion of the city’s downtown and beach properties were built during an era of low-intensity development, which when combined with structural age and current non-functional land uses, provide unique opportunities for land assembly, infill, adaptive-reuse and new development options.
The availability of these exceptional real estate parcels coincides with a national and local movement to return to a downtown urban living environment. When combined with ease of access to a gorgeous beach environment and a large regional employment base, Clearwater provides a combination hard to ignore.
Through regional partnerships with Pinellas County Economic Development (www.siliconbay.org) and the Tampa Bay Partnership (www.TampaBay.org), more successes are on the way. The city of Clearwater works closely with businesses moving to the area to address land use planning, permitting, parking, zoning, site plan review and environmental issues.
Resources and Incentives
The greater Downtown Clearwater area is a Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) generating Tax Increment Financing funds that are invested back into the downtown through a variety of infrastructure improvements as well as façade improvement grants, payment of impact fees, and more. In addition to being a CRA, portions of the downtown area are classified as a Brownfields Area (allowing for environmental site assessment funding), a Small Business Administration HUBZone (a Historically Underutilized Business Zone that is an empowerment contracting program) and an Enterprise Zone (providing tax incentives to businesses employing residents from the area). These designations allow significant tax incentives for companies in this area and those that bring jobs to the downtown core.
The City of Clearwater and Pinellas County participate in the Qualified Target Industry (QTI) tax refund program through the state of Florida. The QTI tax refund is a job incentive available to the City of Clearwater to encourage quality job growth in targeted high value-added businesses and corporate headquarters. For more information on these incentives and assistance with relocating your business, call the City of Clearwater Economic Development and Housing Department at (727) 562-4220.
The HUBZone Empowerment Contracting program provides federal contracting access opportunities for qualified small businesses located in distressed areas. A small business to be eligible must be located in a designated census tract, must be owned and controlled by one or more U.S. Citizens, and at least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone. Eligible designated census tracts in the City of Clearwater are 259.02, 262.00 and 268.08.
In 1997, the Florida Legislature enacted the Brownfields Redevelopment Act to provide incentives for the private sector to redevelop abandoned, idled, or underused industrial and commercial properties where expansions or redevelopment is complicated by actual or perceived environmental contamination. The City of Clearwater has a federal and state designated Brownfields area.
The City of Clearwater administers one of the most successful Brownfields programs within the state. Since 1998, it has been awarded over $3.1 million from state and federal agencies. The Brownfields program provides individual grants in the designated Brownfields area for Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments.