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      New TIF district in Florence County means economic growth

      Job creation, economic growth, and redevelopment are all phrases we've heard used quite a bit lately, but in Florence County, a proposal has been approved to help make these phrases more than just talk.

      This approval is for what is called a TIF district, the newest addition to Florence County. But what exactly is a TIF district? And what does it mean for you?

      Wendy Gehlhoff, the Florence County Economic Development Director, has been working on this approval for a long time.

      "A Tax Increment Financing district basically allows you to choose a boundary where you can work on growing businesses within that boundary,â?? said Gehlhoff.

      In laymanâ??s terms, a TIF district takes the tax base at the start of the TIF and continues to send that money to taxing entities, like schools. Any new tax money after the start date is set aside for infrastructure and business growth within that district.

      â??Basically, those new monies, the new growth that hasn't been occurring without the TIF district, is what you're capturing to use to encourage growth,â?? Gehlhoff said.

      The TIF district is over 650 acres and includes much of downtown, the west side of Florence, and the entire Industrial Park. Both sides of Main Street are included in the TIF district, and one of the projects Economic Development is hoping to take off is the re-establishing of the closed grocery store in town. Other potential projects include an assisted living facility, more area lodging, and more business expansion at the Industrial Park.

      â??The east end of our town in our Industrial Park; the forest products industry cluster, is something we have targeted to grow. What we're looking for now is value-added forest products that can take some of our green lumber and produce a final product,â?? Gehlhoff said.

      By creating a TIF district that promotes investing from inside and outside Florence County, the community can start to regain their economic confidence and plan for a brighter future.