The CEP believes that helping existing businesses grow and thrive is equally important to attracting new companies. We put the same resources into helping local companies as we do attracting new ones. Our team works to identify barriers to a company's success and what we can do to remove that barrier. Our Business Retention team meets with more than 300 businesses each year and provides assistance in accessing markets, suppliers, incentives, tax rebates, and workforce initiatives.
The Ocala MSA is home to nearly 380,000 people and over 14,000 businesses. Ocala’s central location and diversity of existing business are key factors in why companies choose to relocate here and continue to prosper here. The Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership is proud to showcase some of the companies that have chosen our community as the place they do business.
Ocala Health System
Product or Service: Retail Sales
Office function: Rescue & Fire Equipment
Custom Window Systems a Pella company
Marion County Public Schools
State of Florida (All Depts.)
Marion County Board of County Commissioners
City of Ocala (All Depts.)
Marion County Sheriff’s Office
College of Central Florida
The CEP regularly publishes a directory of Primary Employers in the area. The latest edition of this Directory can be accessed here.
The Ocala Metro has assisted a diverse group of existing employers be able to expand in the last few years. The following is a sampling of recent projects to expand in the metro.
The State of Florida, Marion County and the City of Ocala aggressively promote new job creation by offering various investments to assist companies in their site and community selection process. These investments come in the form of grants, refunds, or abatements and may be used singularly or in concert with each other to enhance a company’s profitability. Typical uses for investments include: personnel recruitment and training, infrastructure development, mitigating moving costs, reduction of start-up expenses, etc. Generally most investments may be applied for by new or existing industry although the amounts may vary due to differing formulas applied to the status of the applicant.
State tax incentives available for job creation, investment, and environmental mitigation by businesses located in this area. Benefits may include Job Bonus Tax Refund, building materials sales tax refund, and voluntary cleanup tax credits.
A program of annual credits against the Florida Corporate Income Tax based on a percentage of capital investment. Program applicable to specific sectors including: life sciences, financial services, corporate headquarters, information technology, transportation equipment manufacturing and semiconductors. Minimum investment needed to qualify for this program is $25 million.
An infrastructure program provided by the State of Florida and EFI which is designed to remove any transportation impediments to a company choosing a specific site within a community. Application is made in name of the company by the local municipality having jurisdiction over impacted roads. Grant amounts are directly tied to jobs created. Grants of $1 million or more require 200 new jobs, $200,000 to $1 million require 100 or more new jobs and less than $200,000 must produce up to 100 new jobs. Maximum grant amount is $2 million.
A training program funded by the Federal Workforce Investment Act and administered by Workforce Florida, Inc. Provides training to existing workers to maintain workforce competitiveness. Training can occur at colleges, vocational centers or a company’s facility. Business must provide matching contribution and training must be completed by end of State’s fiscal year (June 30th).
Machinery and equipment used in the manufacturing process may be exempt from Florida Sales Tax through a process of pre-applying for an exempt status. Existing industries must demonstrate an increase in production of a minimum of 10%. Program is administered through the Florida Department of Revenue.
A training program administered through Workforce Florida (WFI) which is designed to help companies identify, recruit and train employees during initial phases of locating or expanding in a Florida community. The program requires at least 10 new full-time jobs be created and allows for training in educational or company facility. Company salaries must be at least 115% of the County’s average wage. (Salary requirement may be waived in a Brownfield site or enterprise zone.) Training programs can be established locally through the College of Central Florida, the Marion County School System or other approved facilities.
A program of tax credits against Florida’s Corporate Income Tax or Sales and Use Tax for companies locating within specific urban areas and employing a specific number of employees. Communities are identified by size which dictates number of employees necessary. Tax credits vary from $500 per job created to $1,500. NOTE: The State of Florida maintains additional incentives specific to certain industrial sectors.
A State program that allows communities (if they choose) to eliminate the State’s portion of the sales tax normally charged on power consumption in the manufacturing process. The applicant must commit at least 75% of its physical structure to a manufacturing process and must request the elimination from their power supplier.
A grant program that authorizes direct cash grants to qualified companies that invest a minimum of $300,000 and create a minimum of 10 new jobs at 115% of the Average Earnings Per Worker in the County. Grant amounts are equal to a percentage of the increased Advalorem taxes generated by the project. Grant amounts vary according to location.
A Marion County supported financing program designed to utilize assets and future income of the applicant to guarantee payment of low interest loans. Interest paid to bond purchasers is exempt from federal income tax allowing the buyer to pass along savings to the company in the form of lower rates. Funds may be used for land, building and equipment purchase as well as some “soft costs” such as architectural fees, etc. Users must be manufacturers, health care related or certain non-profits. The maximum amount allowed is $20 million and the practical minimum is $1.5 million. Interest rates are negotiable and are usually tied to a percentage of the current prime rate. A federally mandated per capita amount of bonds are allowed annually.
The purpose of the EIP is to create economic growth within the Ocala city limits and utility service areas through both the attraction of new business and encouragement of existing business to grow and expand. Funding may include, but is not limited to; the waiving, crediting, or payment of fees, reduced rent on city owned property, grants, land donation or exchange, capital improvements, required infrastructure improvements, grant matching funds, gap financing, and loan guarantees among others. The program is administered by the City of Ocala Revitalization Strategies Department. NOTE: Applicants MUST locate within the City’s utility service area and each application is approved by Ocala City Council.
The Chamber & Economic Partnership will be with your business from beginning to end whether attraction, creation, or expansion. The diverse array of organizations and programs encountered in the economic development process can create significant challenges for businesses at all levels. Our one-stop concierge approach is tailored to assist you through the planning, design and development process. Whatever your need, from workforce training and employee recruitment to technical assistance with government contracting, process improvements, and export growth, you will have a knowledgeable team that will be there to support and assist you from start to finish.
Whether it is properly zoned land or an existing building, the CEP can help businesses find the right location to grow in the Ocala Metro. Visit our Sites & Buildings page to find your new building or site.
The CEP provides valuable research to help companies evaluate the feasibility of their expansions in this market. From business climate and workforce to assets and infrastructure, information is key to every aspect of business planning. Our easy to access economic figures, demographic data, trend analysis, and industry data will help you with expansion opportunities, strategic planning, market studies and business plans. Visit our Demographics page to find a vast array of up-to-date information for your every need.
The Enterprise Center at the College of Central Florida (CF) houses two agencies connecting resources to benefit the business community; Workforce Connection and CF - Corporate Training. These organizations have received national recognition for their collaborative efforts to assist companies.
The CEP can help coordinate the process. Getting to the right place and the right people the FIRST time.
CEP partner, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion, has several free programs to help businesses identify, recruit and train employees. CareerSource CLM is a proud partner of the American Job Center network and member of CareerSource Florida.
The Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership will conduct a confidential business survey to gauge the area’s economic conditions and provide benchmarking information for employers as it relates to wages and benefits.
Check out the results of the survey here.
Since 2006, the amount of manufactured goods and agricultural/equine products produced in the Ocala Metro for out-of-country export has increased by 35.8% or an estimated $47 million. These increases in exported manufactured goods and agricultural/equine sales by the Ocala Metro’s product providers have helped to stabilize and retain pockets of existing employment.
Florida serves as a major international trade center and a hub for international banking and finance, education, transportation and telecommunications. The state also has one of the largest concentrations of consulates and bi-national chambers of commerce in the United States. (Enterprise Florida)
Small and medium sized businesses play a critical role in Florida exports. In a recent report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, it was noted that small and medium-sized companies accounted for 68% of Florida exports and that Florida exports a higher percentage of its manufactured production than any state. (44%). Florida is also the 3rd largest exporter of high-tech goods in the nation. (More than $ 16.4 billion; USDC data)
Find out how the CEP's partnerships with Enterprise Florida and the US Department of Commerce can help you develop and expand your business around the globe.
While the CEP provides direct assistance for new and existing businesses, we have a number of other partners who provide valuable assistance. The following is a partial listing of some of those partners.
Marion County Growth Services 352.438.2600
One-Stop Customer Service Center, Code Enforcement, Planning, Zoning
Marion County Procurement Services 352.671.8444
Marion County bidding process, bids and purchasing through DemandStar
Marion County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) 352.629.8297
Traffic Counts, Transportation Statistics, Public Transportation
City of Ocala Growth Management Department 352.629.8404
One-Stop Permit Center, Licensing, Inspection, Planning and Buildng
City of Ocala Procurement Services 352.629.2489
Enrollment for Bid notices through eNotify and vendor registration through DemandStar
City of Dunnellon Business Licenses 352.465.8500
Local Business Tax Receipt (Occupational License)
City of Belleview Development Services 352.233.2112
Building, Planning and Zoning, Code Enforcement
CF Institute 352.873.5804
Entrepreneur Academy, Business Training and Classes, Continuing Education
CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion—Employer Center 352.873.7939
Employer Services, Post Job Openings, Financial Incentives, Training Resources
Land Development Codes & Ordinances for Marion County and Incorporated Communities
Enterprise Florida—Economic Development Organization of the State of Florida
Florida Bar— Legal fact sheets
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR)
Florida Department of Revenue
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO)
Florida Department of Management Serices—Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD)
Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco
GrowFL— Economic Gardening, Research, Strategy Analysis
State of Florida Statutes
State of Florida: Vendor Information Portal
IRS: Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center
U.S. Commercial Service—Export Services
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
Veterans Business Resources