Mayor Muoio top priority: New jobs for WPB

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The City of West Palm Beach will use economic development incentives to "level the playing field" and attract new businesses and high-paying jobs, Mayor Jeri Muoio said during her second State of the City address Wednesday morning.

The framework, she said, would include capital improvement projects, small business loan guarantees and downtown office conversion funds to recruit marine industry businesses and expand and retain existing businesses.

"I'm talking about creating a new tool box and making a difference with real incentives for our business community," she said. "We are recruiting not only job creators but also businesses that will invest in the city."

Muoio said the incentives will help businesses along the South Dixie Highway and Broadway corridors restore and renovate their buildings, help industrial areas upgrade their facilities and purchase new equipment and fill vacant office space.

"The past year saw more development applications than in each of the past seven years," she said. "We are seeing the most pre-construction interest in our city since the building boom and planning revenues are at their highest point since 2005."

The push for economic development comes one year after Muoio hired Alan Durham as the city's first economic development director.

Muoio said 300 jobs had been created under Durham's watch -- three times more than she expected.

She pointed to a new residential and business project on Antique Row, the demolition of the Palm Beach Lakes Mall and the proposed construction of a commuter rail station and hotel as examples of recent growth.

The City Commission may consider Muoio's proposed incentives package as early as this month.

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