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Published: Friday, 7/11/2003

City adds areas into enterprise zone plan

BY ELIZABETH A. SHACK
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Parts of west, northeast, and south Toledo have been added to the city's enterprise zone, Mayor Jack Ford announced yesterday.

The expansion of the zone, which now covers nearly all of the city, will encourage growth and create new job opportunities, he said.

Businesses that agree to create and retain jobs are exempt from property taxes on capital investments, such as buying equipment or real estate, for 10 years.

The businesses pay 45 percent of what they would have been taxed by their school district.

Taxes that businesses in the new parts of the zone already are paying will not disappear.

“But if they do something that would increase their property taxes, that new tax can be abated,” said Steven Seaton, the city's director of economic and community development.

Mr. Seaton said the businesses receiving tax incentives are monitored annually to make sure they are creating or retaining the number of jobs that they said they would.

If the businesses are not complying, City Council can remove the abatement.

The zone allows small businesses that face a sudden rapid expansion to call on the city for help, Councilman Rob Ludeman said.

Mr. Ludeman said he was pleased at the expansion of the zone, which was something he had recommended the city do.

The enterprise zone focuses on industrial businesses, but if a retail business is large enough to have a visible effect on the number of jobs in the city, it could receive an abatement.

Businesses such as law and accounting firms also could be included, Mr. Seaton said.

But many retail businesses may not be interested in applying for the program, he said.

Businesses that accept at least $100,000 in financial assistance from the city must pay their employees a living wage.

Most businesses that qualify for an enterprise zone abatement fall into that category. “They decide whether the tax abatement is worth it,” Mr. Seaton said.

Even non-retail businesses may not take advantage of the opportunity. Mr. Ludeman said a telephone-card processing company that plans to move in along Reynolds Road across from the Southwyck Shopping Center is not applying for the tax abatement.

“They decided not to take advantage, but the opportunity was there for them,” he said.

That opportunity is what the city officials see as important.

Mr. Ford said the broadened zone area will allow the city to compete with the many other cities and counties throughout Ohio that also have enterprise zones. “Toledo must compete with these locations and offer similar incentives,” he said.

The expansion leaves out a few partial census tracts on the western fringe of the city, but those are primarily residential areas, Mr. Seaton said.

“Any area that businesses would likely locate in is in the enterprise zone,“ he said.

The Ohio Department of Development certified the expansion on June 25.



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