PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County Chamber of Commerce, Bay County Economic Development Alliance, and the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors announced their partnership Tuesday, supporting the Panama City Ad Valorem Property Tax Exemption Program.

“If you’re driving down any road, you can tell we’re growing but while we’re growing we want to give incentives or create opportunities for incentives for local businesses to grow,” Bay County Chamber of Commerce Chairman Kyle Shoots said. “And we also want to incentivize manufacturing in people that make stuff and build stuff to come to our town, which creates really good jobs for people like all Bay County home.”

Shoots said the ad valorem property tax exemption program had been in place for thirty years until voters rejected it in 2021.

“We’re excited to bring it back into Panama City so that we can show and demonstrate to new businesses that are coming that economic development support and business-friendly communities are everywhere throughout Bay County,” Patrick Jones with the Bay Economic Development Alliance said.

CPAR is hoping to persuade voters to pass the tax this time around with a $25,000 campaign.

“Our goal as realtors is to promote homeownership, private property rights, and growth in our area so we’re a big proponent of that,” CPAR President Jennifer Ledesma said.

To qualify for the incentive, businesses have to meet goals for creating a certain number of new jobs.

If they don’t meet the goal, they don’t get the property tax break.

“I think a lot of times people think when they think tax abatement is that the county just starts writing checks for anybody that wants to come in and bring a new business here, but it’s actually not.”

The Economic Development Alliance said it’s negotiating with a German manufacturing company that plans to bring 700 new jobs to the city, but they say tax incentives will be key to landing the new business.

Voters will decide on the property tax abatement referendum on April 18.