THE BLOG
01/18/2012 11:29 am ET Updated Mar 19, 2012

Miami and South Florida Could Learn From Louisiana

Right now, technology is one of the only sectors in the U.S. economy that is doing well. For most cities and states around the nation, this means they're working hard to promote themselves as the "new Silicon Valley" in one way or another. Some are failing, others are succeeding. I think that Louisiana makes a good case for how to succeed at promoting IT, especially entrepreneurship and startups.

The state is attracting angel investors, called this because they are usually the first to invest in a completely unproven business. I think that Florida should follow suit. It's attracting them through tax incentives. Angel investors in Louisiana can claim a state income or franchise tax credit on up to 35% of their investment, depending on the way the money is used. If the money is used to make payroll, then you get the full 35%. If it's used for production expenditures (including digital interactive productions) inside the state, you can take up to 25% in credit. So if an angel investor puts $100,000 into a startup, they could potentially take a writeoff of up to $35,000 of it. That's a lot of incentive.

Here in Florida, to my knowledge there is no talk of creating such incentives. Considering the incentives being offered in this state, it's apparent that it's the aircraft and space industry that gets most of the attention.

There are almost no incentives at all in Miami either. Or anywhere else in Florida, for that matter. Unless you're in a business that creates a lot of capital (meaning hardware or tangibles), you're out of luck. Making the latest, greatest Facebook app? Starting up the coolest new social media idea? Building software that will fundamentally change healthcare? No incentives in Florida. Sorry.

This puts us Floridians at a disadvantage, I think, that will slow our growth in the long run. Ultimately it will lead to some creative talent leaving this state to seek funding in a more tax friendly region. We have great programs in place like the Miami Innovation Fund and Incubate Miami that are doing awesome things for the tech startup community. But these programs are dependent on angel investors and their funds. Giving those investors incentives to do business in Florida would go a long way towards promoting Miami as the best place to do IT.

Don't you agree?