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New Stockton Zone News

In one of the most detailed articles about the issues related to the process of applying for a new Enterprise Zone designation, The Record describes some of what is at stake for Stockton and San Joaquin County:

STOCKTON – County and municipal policymakers are attempting to expand by 22 times a designated area that grants businesses inside it potentially millions of dollars worth of tax credits and incentives to hire local workers.

Businesses in the proposed 638-square-mile San Joaquin County enterprise zone – which would cover about 45 percent of the county – would be eligible for tax credits of $35,000 a year for five years for each worker hired who lives in the area, as well as tax breaks that could shave about $1.5 million off of $20 million worth of equipment purchases.

The current enterprise zone covers about 29 square miles of central and south Stockton. Enterprise zones, because of their tax benefits, are designated and regulated by the state. There are only 42 such zones in California.

Stockton’s 15-year-old zone, which expires next year, has led to the employment of 18,000 workers from economically depressed neighborhoods in Stockton and unincorporated areas of the county, according to Fran Aguilera, director of the county’s Economic Development Department.

The looming expiration deadline raises worries that firms which relocated or stayed here to collect the zone’s incentives might bail and economic progress could stall or backslide if Stockton’s renewal attempts are turned down. Add to that what is expected to be fierce competition among cities and counties vying for eight designations that come available in 2008.

“Without the enterprise zone, I think we’re going to face a real different environment. It is going to be a daunting task to do what we’ve done here over the last 15 years,” said Steve Carrigan, economic development director for the city of Stockton, a partner with the county in the current enterprise zone.

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