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Sarasota News Leader September 21, 2012 patterns and greenhouse gas reduction strategies" as a goal. And, according to a "Community Outreach" PowerPoint pre- sentation provided by Damschroder, one of the state's "Application Criteria" is that the county's plan "Reduces reliance on automo- biles." "Rewarding long-distance commutes is completely the opposite of what this was in- tended for," Thaxton argued Sept. 12. "It's explicit that this is designed to reduce trip lengths." Commissioner Christine Robinson pushed back, saying the most restrictive option would discourage applicable businesses from hiring workers in, for example, North Port. Commissioner Joe Barbetta spoke up for the regional idea, saying any limitations on the program might reduce the county's ability to attract top-tier businesses. The commission eventually voted to ap- prove the countywide version of the tax re- bate. Theoretically, that means a business located along South River Road in Engle- wood is eligible for the tax incentive if it employs someone who lives in Newtown. After their vote, the commissioners heard from Jeff Maultsby, the manager of busi- ness and economic development for the county, who told them he plans to bring the rebranding proposal back to them at a future meeting. He said the county has already received state approval to make a change. Page 33 Damschroder says the goals of the new plan are "to incentivize businesses to be sustainable" and "to establish businesses that themselves can be sustainable," and it needs a new name to reflect those ambi- tions. When asked about worries that the program might become so open-ended that it fails to support the kinds of green tech businesses it was created to help, Damschroder says the rules remain "pretty strict." Aside from the geographic restrictions, the companies "have to be a clean technology business or a green business that does industrial man- ufacturing or research and development," she says. "So a retail store couldn't apply; a restaurant couldn't apply." And all those requirements are "just to be eligible for the program," she stresses. When companies begin applying for the in- centives, they all will be vetted and come before the County Commission for approv- al. Damschroder has already offered two com- munity workshops for local residents and business owners interested in the program. A third is scheduled from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at North Port City Hall. Video of the first workshop will be available on the county website soon.

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