Enterprise zone in Callaway County stalled again

The Missouri Department of Economic Development’s failure to update its computers with 2010 U.S. Census data has delayed efforts to develop an Enhanced Enterprise Zone in Callaway County — an effort local officials believe would boost employment.

Bruce Hackmann, president of the Fulton Area Development Corporation, said Wednesday the organization’s plan to create an Enhanced Enterprise Zone in Callaway County has been blocked by the state agency’s failure to provide updated census data needed to prepare a map of a proposed EEZ in Callaway County.

“It’s extremely frustrating to us,” Hackmann said. “We still have to wait. The map of the previously proposed EEZ area in Callaway County that was offered last year must be redrawn because it is based on now-outdated 2000 U.S. Census data.”

Hackmann said when the board of directors of the Fulton Area Development Corporation decided to postpone the EEZ proposal, their action indicated that after looking at a redrawn map they would make a decision on whether to move forward with the EEZ proposal or not.

“At this point,” he said, “we have not been able to draw a new map because the state still does not have updated 2010 federal census data. After the board sees the new map, then they will have to decide whether it does what we need to accomplish with the Enhanced Enterprise Zone.”

Hackmann said he and the board still want to include all areas of the county where job-creating development is likely to occur. That would include all major existing industries as well as industrial parks, both of which could take advantage of EEZ tax credits based on job creation.

He said the decision on whether to move forward with the EEZ proposal depends mainly whether the original footprint of the zone can be reduced and still accomplish the goal of providing incentives for creating jobs.

There are other state and federal programs that provide tax abatement and job creation incentives.

“That’s what businesses needing to expand or relocate are seeking. To attract them,” Hackmann said, “we need to have incentives available to them.”

Most of the opposition raised in the county to the EEZ centers on a provision in state law that requires that areas inside an EEZ be declared blighted.

Opponents have organized and formed a group opposed to Enhanced Enterprise Zones, contending they could damage property rights and don’t really create new jobs.

Hackmann has said there is evidence throughout the state that EEZs work, including one in Holts Summit that is credited with preventing Champs Chicken Co. from moving to Texas. The firm last year announced it was expanding is plant in Holts Summit.

“The EEZ designation,” he said, “in no way can lead to anyone seizing the land of any farmer. Nearly all of the business development will be in business parks already established or at existing businesses.”

An EEZ designation first must be approved by the Callaway County Commission and then by the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

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