SARASOTA, FLA. - Most county governments have a business and economic development office and Sarasota County is no different. One of the goals of the Business and Economic Development is to help local business thrive which in turn benefits the entire community.
“The county commission created an economic development incentive fund a few years ago to incentivize businesses to either come here, stay here and or expand here in hopes of creating jobs and putting our citizens back to work” explained Jeff Maultsby, director of Business and Economic Development for Sarasota County.
The program was created in 2010 and to date has distributed $10.5 million in economic incentives. Local businessman Scott Gerber received some of the funds when he started his business, Tube Dude, LLC three years ago.
“We have gone from my garage to St. Armand’s Circle in three years. We have sold 1,800 dudes to 38 countries and we pretty much changed the face of Sarasota.”
Gerber received $56,000 from the Sarasota County economic development grant, which he says helped his business thrive.
‘That is all we needed,” said Gerber. He said he used the money to buy welding machines and other equipment for his business.
One of the conditions of receive the grant from the county included the creation of 44 jobs by July 2016. Gerber tells ABC 7 his business model has changed in the since he agreed to the terms of the grant in 2011 and he no longer needs that many employees. Gerber says his business is doing well and he contacted Maultsby about two weeks ago so he could begin repaying the $56,000 to the county.
“Scott and I have been in communications and we have engaged the office of the county attorney who is currently creating and developing language to amend his agreement so that he will begin to make payments and pay the county back in full,” said Maultsby. He says it shows Gerber is operating in good faith.
Maultsby says as far as his department, he and his staff are always looking for ways to improve the system.
“We are continuously looking to make the processes better and we are always, with out a doubt, looking to protect the citizens and tax payers of Sarasota County.”
Maultsby says they have changed the requirements necessary to receive the grant. Business will have to perform in advance of receiving funding.