Financial incentives help small businesses hire more employees in the Shoals

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FLORENCE, Ala. – Incentives for industry creating jobs is nothing new on the state level. But on the local level, inducing existing businesses to create jobs in the Shoals is hitting its stride.

It started five years ago as an idea to spur growth in the local economy. The Employment Growth Program is the brainchild of the Shoals Economic Development Authority. Since it’s inception, it’s more than doubled in funding.

Forest Wright

“We look at the value of the growth in the community, and if our community is better for that growth then we want to try and induce that, to try and make that happen,” said SEDA President Forest Wright.

Here’s how it works. The Shoals Industrial Development Committee now allocates $150,000 a year to the program. They get their funding from a half-cent sales tax in the Shoals for industrial recruitment. Local businesses then apply for the money available.

Mayor Steve Holt

“It’s giving small businesses here who maybe don’t have a lot of capital investment but they need help with their employees, and they are paying a pretty good wage; that this is a way to help them and give back to the community to give back to that company,” stated Florence Mayor Steve Holt.

Wright said the jobs created through the program have an average salary of $17 an hour. This week, SEDA approved $80,000 in job creation incentives for three existing businesses.

“I hope $150,000 is not enough,” said Wright. “I hope there are so many high paying jobs that are created that we have to ask for more.”

Because if that is the case, everyone wins.

Businesses who participate in the Employee Growth Program do have to adhere to certain requirements and they are reimbursed after the jobs have been created.