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Monday, May 16, 2011

Franklin County Moves to Abate Taxes to Attract Businesses

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May 14, 2011
www.emissourian.com
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Franklin County officials are moving ahead with plans to establish three adjacent enhanced enterprise zones around the cities of Sullivan, St. Clair and Pacific.
The county commission approved an order Thursday to go forward with the application process.
Each of the zones will require a separate application to the state’s Department of Economic Development, said John Griesheimer, Franklin County presiding commissioner.
The zones are designed to attract new businesses or encourage existing businesses to expand by offering real estate property tax abatements for 10 to 25 years.
The abatements can vary from at least 50 percent to 100 percent.
The abatements can be used by manufacturing, warehousing and other industries, so long as they create at least two jobs and there are investments of $100,000 or more.
Being able to grant abatements will be a “shot in the arm” for the communities, Griesheimer said.
For existing businesses, the abatements can only be used on expansions and new structures. The tax waivers can’t be applied to existing structures.
Griesheimer said the abatement amounts and lengths will have to be decided upon by the communities in each district.
He said county officials previously hoped to submit one application, but have been told by the state that each separate zone will require its own application.
Becoming enterprise zones would be somewhat bittersweet — the designation requires an area to be considered blighted and to have unemployment or median household income worse than the state’s average.
“There’s a lot to be learned with this and it is by no means a slam dunk,” Griesheimer said.
It will likely be at least six months before the zones are established because of a lengthy application process, Griesheimer said.
He also noted that once the zones are established, the boundaries are set in stone.

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