Having successfully gotten the Commerce City Council to declare a wide swath of town as an “enterprise zone,” the Downtown Development Authority is wasting no time in taking the second step toward providing greater incentives for businesses to locate or expand in town.
Executive director Denise McKay said she will present a resolution to the city council Monday to apply to the Department of Community Affairs for “opportunity zone” status.
If the DCA sees ample evidence of blight, slum and poverty — which McKay will provide — and accepts the application, businesses that locate in town or expand existing operations can qualify for annual $3,500 state income tax credits for each full-time employee above the first two for each business.
“It will be a blessing if it (approval) happens this year, but if it doesn’t, I expect it to happen early next year,” McKay told her board last Wednesday morning.
If the DCA grants the application this year, the income tax credits would become retroactive for businesses that added employees during 2012. The credits are good for five years.
“There are several in the area that expanded,” McKay noted.
When the DDA first began discussing the idea of creating enterprise and opportunity zones, members expressed some concern that the city council might balk at specifying parts of town as slums and as containing blight or poverty.
They needn’t have worried. At a called meeting on Sept. 24, the council accepted the DDA’s recommendation with enthusiasm and approved the designation unanimously.
“The council was very perceptive,” said DDA member — and Ward 5 city councilman — Johnny Eubanks. “They expanded the zone.”
The original DDA proposal included the DDA district that comprises most of the downtown, plus a section of Homer Road out as far as the old Bi Lo shopping center.
The council expanded the zone out Maysville Road to B. Wilson Road, out Homer Road to the old Twin Tanks, and south along Broad and Elm Streets to the U.S. 441 bypass.
“It went real well,” Eubanks commented. “They were very supportive. It really pleased me that they took that route.”
Member Chris Bulls pointed out the work that McKay has done on the project.
“I just want to say, I think that was a job well done on Denise’s part,” she said. “That will give us a competitive edge we are lacking right now.”