Friday, June 21, 2002

George Mindling Column 6-21-2002 - Funding the Future

Funding the Future of Charlotte County

How much would you, as a business owner, or even as a private citizen, contribute to attract new business to Charlotte County? The Enterprise Charlotte Foundation organizing committee is addressing that question even as it passes its recommendations to the Enterprise Charlotte Board on June 26.

The Enterprise Charlotte Foundation, a nonprofit corporation is essentially an operating fund to support the economic growth of Charlotte County to pay costs chat can't be funded with tax dollars. The foundation will financially support Enterprise Charlotte with funds that can't be spent from the Economic Development Office. Contributions to the Enterprise Charlotte Foundation will be tax deductible. The question is what kind of support will the businesses of Charlotte County, and the community itself, give the foundation?

The foundation's function is to engage in economic development activities, including accepting donations, providing hospitality for potential prospects, sponsoring events, as well as engaging consultants and independent contractors.

The foundation's sole source of revenue will be private donations. It will try to utilize Charlotte County vendors if at all possible. "Why our money?" is always the first question. Because tax dollars can't be used to pay for many of the items needed to successfully show or present what we have to offer potential businesses or companies. Other communities offer opportunities for potential businesses to visit and assess their areas with similar, non-tax funded programs. Charlotte County cannot be competitive without the funding.

How much money?” usually follows. The operating budget for 2002 is tentatively set at $14,000 and grows to $20.600 by 2004, according to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The foundation hopes to meet those goals by setting two contributor levels, one, a business or individual level at $250 and the other a corporate level at $1,000. Of course, no donation will he refused, and the benefits to the contributors are still in discussion.

One item being considered is an Internet link to contributor's web sites on the Enterprise Charlotte Web page for the corporate level. There will be an annual function to recognize those who contributed and to encourage others to support the community.

"Why do I want economic growth'!" usually comes from those satisfied that they are paying the tax burden for the county. Diversifying the tax burden is but one positive aspect of economic growth. Employment opportunities and a more stable economy are also factors. With a broader employment base, local businesses won't be forced to suffer the severe summer economic doldrums we now contend with. The last meeting of the Enterprise Charlotte Foundation organizing committee was this past Tuesday. The recommendations will go to the Enterprise Charlotte Committee on June 26. Hopefully the organizing committee's recommendations reflect the mood and desires of the business community.

We will soon see.

George Mindling © 2002

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