(1) SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Florida Empowerment Zone Act.”
(2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Department” means the Department of Community Affairs.
(b) “Federal Empowerment Zone Program” means the empowerment zone program established in 26 U.S.C. ss. 1391 et seq.
(c) “Nominated area” means an area nominated for participation in the Federal Empowerment Zone Program.
(d) “Sponsoring designee” means the lead entity that applied for and received the empowerment zone designation, but does not include other entities that joined in the application.
(3) LEGISLATIVE INTENT.—The Legislature recognizes that it is in the public interest that the state create economic opportunity in poverty-stricken areas and rebuild such areas by empowering the people and communities within these areas to create jobs and opportunities. The United States Congress in 1997 provided that an additional 20 areas may be designated as federal empowerment zones by January 1, 1999, and, as such, be eligible for federal funding under the Federal Empowerment Zone Program. The Legislature seeks to promote local governments in submitting the strongest possible proposals under the Federal Empowerment Zone Program by establishing a companion state empowerment zone program.
(4) EMPOWERMENT ZONE PROGRAM.—There is created an economic development program to be known as the Florida Empowerment Zone Program. The program shall exist for 10 years and, except as otherwise provided by law, be operated by the Department of Community Affairs in conjunction with the Federal Empowerment Zone Program.