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Columbia's blight debate: Timeline of enhanced enterprise zone effort

Sunday, May 20, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:51 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 21, 2012

COLUMBIA — Here's a look at how the move toward and the debate about an enhanced enterprise zone for Columbia and Boone County have evolved.

February 2011: Representatives of Regional Economic Development Inc. express interest in establishing an enhanced enterprise zone in Columbia and Boone County.

May 2011: REDI Vice President Bernie Andrews sends REDI President Mike Brooks an email informing him that MU graduate student and REDI intern Maurice Harris had begun an informational report on EEZs.

July 13, 2011: Harris presents a report on EEZs, which includes a summary of the program’s purpose and which areas of the city would qualify and details of the application process, to the REDI board of directors. REDI board members later decide the EEZ program is worthy of further review.

Aug. 16, 2011: A subcommittee of the REDI board holds its first meeting. It has three main responsibilities: To recommend EEZ boundaries, to use North American Industry Classification System codes to compile a list of businesses that would be eligible for EEZ benefits and to recommend how much of a tax abatement the eligible businesses within the zone should receive.

Aug. 31, 2011: The subcommittee reaches consensus on zone boundaries and eligible businesses.

Sept. 14, 2011: The subcommittee presents its recommendations at a meeting of the full REDI board, which unanimously approves the pursuit of an EEZ.

Jan. 17: The Columbia City Council at a work session receives a memo summarizing the REDI subcommittee’s research.

Feb. 6: The City Council approves Resolution 20-12A, which establishes an Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board and declares 60 percent of Columbia as blighted or having conditions that lead to blight. The EEZ boundaries also include parts of Boone County. The board is charged with determining which businesses would be eligible, what level of tax abatement should be offered and whether the zone boundaries should be revised.

Feb. 22: Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia forms to oppose the City Council's blight decree.

Feb. 28: REDI President Mike Brooks and others make a presentation about EEZs to the Downtown Leadership Council. Brooks apologizes for "public consternation" about the process.

March 6: Carol Shoemaker, an incentive specialist with the Missouri Department of Economic Development, leads a community forum on EEZs. Members of the public express worries about the definition of blight, the potential impact on property values and the potential abuse of eminent domain.

March 13: Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia files paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission to become a political action committee.

March 16: The EEZ board and REDI representatives begin revising proposed zone boundaries.

April 2: At the City Council's regular meeting, Fifth Ward Councilwoman Helen Anthony inquires about the feasibility of rescinding that part of Resolution 20-12A that established the boundaries of the EEZ. City Manager Mike Matthes suggests the council wait for a report from REDI about the potential impact of a rescission on the EEZ application.

April 9: Citizens Involved and Invested in Columbia begins circulating a petition calling for Resolution 20-12A to be rescinded in its entirety.

April 16: After receiving the REDI report at a regular council meeting and receiving input from members of the public, Anthony asks that a resolution rescinding the EEZ boundaries be placed on the next council agenda.

May 7: The council hears more public testimony for and against the EEZ. On the advice of City Counselor Fred Boeckmann, it votes to rescind all of Resolution 20-12A. The move dissolves not only the zone boundaries but also the EEZ board.

May 9: The council holds a two-minute special meeting to introduce Bill 121-12, which would re-establish the EEZ board. Mayor Bob McDavid says he will accept recommendations from his council colleagues about whom to appoint if the bill is approved.

Friday: Keep Columbia Free seeks volunteers to collect signatures on petitions to recall any council member who votes in favor of creating a new EEZ board.

Monday: The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinance.


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.

Chart | How enhanced enterprise zones benefit businesses

Jobs | Effectiveness of enhanced enterprise zones uncertain

Map | Poverty rates, population change in Boone County


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