Columbia considers ways to boost business growth

Friday, February 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

State Farm Insurance is staying in Columbia, but that doesn’t mean the city’s future business growth is being ignored.

At Thursday night’s work session, the City Council heard a proposal for an incentive package to lure business growth to Columbia.

The proposal, presented by Regional Economic Development Inc., calls for the city to issue bonds to businesses that are expanding or new to Columbia. The bonds would pay for buildings and equipment and the city would collect money from the interest on the bonds.

If businesses buy the bonds, the city could agree to reduce property taxes for them for a set number of years.

The council supported the proposal, but wanted to hear the Columbia Board of Education’s opinion before making a decision. The school board’s revenue is heavily dependent on property taxes.

Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku said there’s about a 10 percent difference in property tax revenue between the city and the school board.

REDI and a separate review board would determine which businesses are eligible for the tax breaks.

Former REDI Chair Dave Griggs led the presentation and said that less than 5 percent of the city’s businesses would be eligible.

The presentation included a 10-year plan that outlined how property taxes would be reduced for a business. The property taxes would gradually increase each year, returning to normal by the 10th year.

Griggs also said each individual agreement would vary depending on what business the company is in.

“That’s the beauty of this plan, it’s entirely open to what works at the time,” Griggs said.

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