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Video: Enterprise Zone Event in Fresno

There was an event in support of Enterprise Zones on March 1 in Fresno, the following is some of the media coverage.

CBS 47 filed this story along with video that aired on the local station:

A group of Valley business owners and government leaders gathered in South Fresno on Tuesday to voice their support for California’s Enterprise Zone Program.

Governor Jerry Brown has proposed cutting tax credits through the program to save the state money. California faces a projected $25 billion deficit.

Without the tax credits, business leaders at Holt Lumber in South Fresno say they wouldn’t have been able to afford a new piece of machinery designed to help speed up the manufacturing of roof trusses.

ABC 34 also aired a story:

Governor Jerry Brown’s push to eliminate “enterprise zones” to help reduce a $25 billion budget deficit hasn’t been well-received in the valley.

Jobs would have to be cut at Holt Lumber in downtown Fresno if enterprise zone designations were eliminated. The company took advantage of hiring credits to add ten of its thirty employees and tax credits to buy a new saw.

Controller David Powers said the valley would be hit hard if the governor is able to repeal the enterprise zone. Powers explained, “It’s gonna trickle down to eventually losing employees. Not only do we suffer, the employees suffer but our customers and the community, everybody suffers.”

Local leaders gathered downtown to let the governor know how important the tax breaks were to Fresno County last year.

Steve Geil of the Economic Development Corporation said, “Over 16,000 people were either hired or retained in their jobs because of the enterprise zone.”

And this from the Fresno Business Journal:

The proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to eliminate the enterprise zones in the state budget prompted a group of Fresno County business owners and elected officials to voice their concerns today at Holt Lumber in Fresno.

In Sanger, where the unemployment rate is approaching the 30% mark, Mayor Joshua Mitchell believes cutting the program will make the unemployment rate soar even higher.

“All we’re doing with eliminating these initiatives is lengthening the recession,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell countered Brown’s proposal by saying he should make the entire state of California an enterprise zone. Enterprise zones are geographic areas where businesses get certain tax credits for hiring.

“What we’re doing then is inviting jobs back into California,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell believes this would increase the taxable population and business base and bring more income into the state with companies relocating to California and employees following them.

Steve Geil, the president/CEO of the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County, acknowledges there are modifications necessary, but advises against elimination of the program.

“There may be some counties using the enterprise zone inappropriately and they need to be audited, but you don’t cut out the program when there are counties doing it correctly and relying on it and being very successful,” Geil said. “And we are one of the most successful counties in the state.”

Geil suggests Gov. Brown should put together a committee to research cost and benefits of the zones and said Fresno County needs to have a representative at the table for those discussions because of the number zones in the county.

Approximately 1/3 of Holt Lumber’s current employees were hired because of tax credits. If the enterprise zones are eliminated, David Powers, the controller for Holt Lumber, expects lay offs would follow within three to six months.

“We’re at a level of sustainability, but if the enterprise zone goes away, that will mean more employee cuts,” Powers said.
Powers does not believe it would be the entire 1/3 that was hired because of the tax credits, but it would be a significant number.

Kim Torres owner of ZJ’s Auto Body in Clovis said it wouldn’t just be cities and big businesses that would be affected by cutting the enterprise zones. Her company last year was able to hire three additional employees to increase the staff to 19 members.

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