Orange Co. leaders use tax incentives to spark job growth

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

In 2012, Orange County voted to offer tax breaks to companies that make substantial investments to create new jobs.

So far, three companies have expressed interest and if they all go through with it, they could bring more than 1,800 new jobs to the county.

The aerospace and defense industry is among the industries Orange County is trying to attract, and one company in that industry is considering moving work to the county with the help of a tax break.

It's one of two companies interested in bringing new operations into the county.

The county is keeping both companies confidential, but together they could create 1,700 new jobs.

A third company, DaVita Rx, which operates dialysis centers and pharmacies in central Florida and nationwide, said it chose Orange County for expansion specifically because of the tax abatement program.

The company is planning 100 new positions, many in customer service, that would pay about $47,000.

"I think there should be a lot more of it. The employers… they have to have an incentive to want to expand," said unemployed worker Trish Evans.

DaVita Rx also proposed an almost $9 million investment in Orange County.

The county's program offers tax breaks ranging from 50 to 100 percent for five to 10 years, depending on the amount of new investment and jobs.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said she wishes the county didn't have to offer breaks to bring in more jobs, but said it's necessary.

"We have to be able to compete, and this is one of the tools in the tool chest that we used very judiciously," said Jacobs.

Mayor Jacobs said she believes things will continue looking up over the next three years.

She said 11 other companies have gotten smaller-scale assistance to add another 1,200 jobs.