Enhanced enterprise zones
In an effort to address public scrutiny regarding the definition of blight, city leaders and area legislators want to alter the enhanced enterprise zone's state statute so that a local government's declaration of blight cannot be used for other laws that also necessitate a blight requirement.
A new citizens group — CiViC, Citizens Invested and Involved in Columbia — seeks to question the widsom of blighting large portions of the city and county in the name of economic development.
Enhanced enterprise zones must include the census blocks that are lowest in income and highest in unemployment. Whether they’ll benefit is just one of many questions.
Following a presentation by Regional Economic Development Inc., members of the Downtown Leadership Council as well as community members posed questions regarding the proposed enhanced enterprise zone in Columbia.
The dominant mood among citizens about the Enhanced Enterprise Zone is suspicion with an undertone of anger and broadly shared confusion.
The Regional Economic Development Inc. is pushing for an enhanced enterprise zone to create jobs and foster economic growth in Columbia. But others worry the term "blighted," featured in the state statute that creates these zones, is not truly reflective of the large parts of the city it might be applied to.
New jobs and more funding for education could result from REDI's plans to create an enhanced enterprise zone. Business developments and expansions within the zone would benefit from a 50 percent tax abatement for the next 10 years.