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Imperial Valley Press Report on JEDE Hearing

The Imperial Valley Press issued the following report on the recent JEDE Committee hearing:

Representatives from the Imperial Valley are promoting the effectiveness of local enterprise zones as some state representatives have attempted to pass legislation that would drastically weaken them.

Last week Tim Kelley, the president and chief executive officer of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp., spoke in Sacramento about how the zones are closely tied with the county’s development plans.

“It’s an integral part of economic growth in the county,” Kelley said.

There are two more upcoming hearings, including one Oct. 8 in San Diego.

Lately, the zones have encountered criticism from Assemblyman John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who drafted legislation that would essentially remove several economic incentives provided to businesses that locate within the zones.

Imperial County has two zones, one in Calexico and one in Brawley, and both cities’ councils passed resolutions opposing the legislation in May. Since 2006, more than 40 local businesses have taken advantage of Enterprise Zone programs.

Kelley said the legislation would eliminate a simple tax credit given to businesses that hire local workers and replace it with a complex voucher system that would cost larger businesses hundreds of hours to implement and track, essentially eliminating any benefits from the credit.

“It puts an extra burden and cost on the employer,” Kelley said.

Danny Fitzgerald, who manages the Calexico Enterprise Zone, said the legislation has been put on the back-burner, but there are still a lot of questions from state legislators as to whether the zones spur economic development or are another form of corporate welfare.

Fitzgerald said many of these concerns come from urban areas, which face different issues compared to the rural Valley.

“Locally, there’s massive support for enterprise zones,” Fitzgerald said.

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