Columbia's blight debate
The conference is intended as a way to improve the Imagine Columbia's Future plan made in 2008. Topics to be discussed will include protecting historic neighborhoods, neighborhood revitalization and green technologies.
Columbia residents meet with representatives of Regional Economic Development Inc. and the chair of a city advisory board in an informational session designed to answer questions and gather input on new proposed boundaries for Enhanced Enterprise Zones.
Although the Columbia City Council took no action related to the establishment of an enhanced enterprise zone Monday, opponents staged a demonstration before the meeting.
Columbia resident Linda Green feels the evidence in support of EEZs is scant and that their implementation in Columbia could lead to economic trouble.
Proponents say an enhanced enterprise zone could bring manufacturing jobs to Columbia. However, a 2010 state audit found that promises of jobs and investment related to Missouri's EEZ program were inaccurate and often overstated.
Regional Economic Development Inc. began to look into the possibility of an enhanced enterprise zone in early 2011. It first came before the City Council in January, and the council will consider re-establishing an EEZ board at its meeting on Monday.
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.
Business that locate or expand within an enhanced enterprise zone are eligible for a number of economic incentives. To date, there are 199 such zones in Missouri.