color graphic of people putting puzzle pieces together, with text COVID-19 Economic Recovery Incentive Plan

Orange County’s Division of Building Safety’s Economic Incentive has Reduced Permit Costs and Spurred Activity During Pandemic


In May 2020, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings challenged County staff to work with the development community to find out what type of assistance could help sustain and boost development activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The County’s Division of Building Safety reached out to key industry stakeholders and customers to gain feedback and suggestions.

Virtual forums were held with the Greater Orlando Builders Association and Associated Builders and Contractors of Central Florida. During these meetings, County staff shared permitting data and requested suggestions for action items that could assist the industry with recovery efforts. The key suggestion received was to evaluate the possibility of time-sensitive impact fee, permit fee and other fee reductions or grants to increase incentives for new starts.

With this feedback, the Division of Building Safety worked to develop the Economic Recovery Incentive Program, which used $10 million of Building Fund reserves collected from fee payments to offset permit fees for a 6-month period.

Approved by the Board of County Commissioners on July 6, 2020, the program was designed to maximize assistance to a variety of projects, setting a cap of $100,000 benefit to a single project.

Data and other information collected during the program shows positive feedback from participants, with a total of 42,171 permits that received assistance.

Additional data collected:

  • More than 3,300 individual ownersheat map of incentive projects in Orange County
  • and contractors obtaining permits received reduced or no permit fees
  • Approximately 64 percent of the building permits issued had a valuation under $50,000, benefiting small businesses and projects
  • Two large affordable housing developments benefited from the program, which will add an estimated 230 affordable housing units to the local inventory
  • The programs budget of $10 million was expended by January 15, 2021

In order to understand the benefits of the program, an interactive map was developed to display permits issued by type around the county. This map can filter by permit type to show what areas of the County benefited from this program and what types of permits received the funds. The distribution of funds appears to be uniformly spread across the County for all kinds of permits.

As the community continues to recover from the affects from the pandemic, the County’s Division of Building Safety will review new opportunities to boost new development and growth.

For more information about permitting services and Orange County’s Division of Building Safety, visit

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