The JaxPort FTZ has offered to help the county market the zone designation to help attract businesses.
Flagler County plans to join the Northeast Florida Foreign Trade Zone No. 64 — called JaxPort — in a realignment away from the Volusia Foreign Trade Zone service area, which it's part of currently.
Foreign trade zones let certain importers defer or eliminate customs duties and taxes on their imports.
A U.S. foreign trade zone is a place in the U.S. that is considered outside U.S. Customs territory, JaxPort Manager Lisa Diaz told County Commissioners during a Feb. 19 workshop. Items can remain in the FTZ without the payment of duties or customs until they're brought to market.
That lets manufacturers and other companies bring in, for example, extra project equipment that may not be needed or products that require testing before being brought to market, without paying duties on materials they may not actually use or sell.
"This is another tool that we need to have and use in our economic development attraction efforts," County Commissioner Donald O'Brien said during the workshop. "Alignment with the Port, I think, is a better option for us than going down south to Volusia County. I think this relationship will bring much better options for us."
The county began considering joining JaxPort after the Volusia Foreign Trade Zone, which is not currently active, proposed a restructuring that would place the trade zone's management under the authority of the Volusia County Department of Economic Opportunity. Flagler County businesses' applications to join the FTZ would then be subject to Volusia County approval.
Volusia County requested Flagler provide a letter of concurrence with the reorganization, but Flagler County staff researched options and determined that joining JaxPort, which has its port of entry at the Jacksonville Port Authority and has been active since 1969, would be better for the county.
It doesn't cost the county anything to join JaxPort — JaxPort will cover the legal fees and reporting requirements associated with the county's transition — and the JaxPort FTZ has offered to help the county market the zone designation in order to attract businesses, according to a county staff report.