No specific high-tech incentives
During his campaign for mayor, Bob Buckhorn made two similar but separate promises related to high-tech industry, and he wrote them into a key campaign document, his eight-page "Changing Tampa's Economic DNA.”
First, in a section of the document labeled "The First Year,” he promised that his administration would "create incentive packages to target high-tech industries identified by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.” It offered no other details about what he had in mind, nor how he planned to implement the promise. It simply said, "Bob will take whatever steps are necessary to attract businesses to Tampa.”
In the next section, labeled "Phase Two: Expand, Enhance, Advance”, he said his administration would propose a package offering "targeted high-technology industries a reduction on property taxes based on the number and types of jobs they create.” At the time, Mayor Pam Iorio's administration and the City Council had already placed that proposal on the ballot for voters to consider at the March 1, 2011, primary.
Voters approved that tax break at the same election in which they put Buckhorn in a runoff for the mayor's race. PolitiFact Florida gave Buckhorn a Promise Kept for implementing that property tax break after he took office.
And as for the first promise, to create incentive packages targeting high-tech industries?
Other than the property tax break, "there hasn't been any other specific high-tech incentive” created by his administration, Buckhorn told PolitiFact Florida.
"I would like to do more,” he said. "I think we have the capacity to do more.” But he said that he would need to talk to executives in the industry to get a better sense of what they need that the city could provide.
"Over the next three years, I would like very much to find ways to encourage that sector to grow,” Buckhorn said. "How we get there remains to be seen.”
Buckhorn promised to create incentive packages to target high-tech industries and to do so in his first year. Beyond carrying forward an initiative launched by the previous administration and approved by voters before he became mayor, Buckhorn acknowledged it hasn't happened yet. If Buckhorn comes forward with an incentives package later in his term, we will revisit our rating. For now, though, we rate this Promise Broken.
Interviews with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Feb. 28, 2012 and March 28, 2012
Tampa Bay Times, Tampa to ask voters to allow property tax breaks for new businesses, Jan. 7, 2011
PolitiFact Florida, "Property tax plan approved by voters and City Council,” May 27, 2011