Columbia's blight debate: How an EEZ benefits businesses

Friday, May 18, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:53 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 21, 2012

COLUMBIA — Businesses that locate or expand within enhanced enterprise zones are eligible for a minimum 50 percent abatement of taxes on real property. They also are eligible for state tax credits. The state of Missouri established the EEZ program in 2004. To date, there are 119 EEZs in the state.

According to the Missouri Department of Economic Development, to receive tax credits for any of the years, the company must:

  • Create a new or expanded business facility with a minimum of two new employees and at least $100,000 of new investment.
  • Replace a business facility, adding at least two new employees and investing a minimum of $1 million.
  • Provide health insurance for employees at all times and cover at least half the cost.

The state sets aside $24 million per year to cover the cost of EEZ tax credits. To determine the credit amount given to each business, the Department of Economic Development uses the following formula:

  • A credit of $400 for each new employee.
  • An additional $400 credit for each new employee who is a resident of the enhanced enterprise zone.
  • An additional $400 credit for each new employee who is paid a wage that exceeds the average wage of the county.
  • A credit equal to 2 percent of new investment within the enhanced enterprise zone.

Areas determined by the applicant retain the enhanced enterprise zone designation for 25 years. These areas must meet the following qualifications:

  • Sixty percent of its residents must have incomes below 90 percent of the census-determined county or state median income.
  • Its residents collectively must have a level of unemployment greater than or equal to that of the county or state.
  • Areas must display attributes of blight or general distress.

Source: Missouri Department of Economic Development

Columbia's blight debate

Main article | Columbia residents worry about property values and eminent domain in neighborhoods designated as blighted. Proponents of an enhanced enterprise zone insist the worries are unfounded and that the city needs to offer incentives to attract manufacturing jobs.

Jobs | Effectiveness of enhanced enterprise zones uncertain

Timeline | Enhanced enterprise zone debate

Map | Poverty rates, population change in Boone County

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