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Who Wants to Be a Zone in 2009? Update: Oxnard

According to the Ventura County Star the City of Oxnard has entered the competition for one of four available Enterprise Zone slots open in 2009:

In Oxnard, the City Council has applied to become one of the state’s 42 enterprise zones. If its application is approved, any business located in the zone — which would cover downtown, south Oxnard and the industrial corridor along Rose and Rice avenues — would be eligible for a raft of local and state incentives.

At the state level, businesses would get a tax credit worth as much as $37,000 over five years for hiring certain workers, including people who are out of work and people who live in high-poverty areas. There would also be tax credits on purchases of up to $20 million in new equipment.

The city of Oxnard would waive some of its permit fees for businesses in the enterprise zone and allow developers to defer other fees until their projects are finished.

Those incentives would cost the city about $100,000 a year and should more than pay for themselves by encouraging economic activity, said Steve Kinney, the president of the Economic Development Corp. in Oxnard and the point man for the city’s application.

The effectiveness of state enterprise zones is up for debate. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that they didn’t result in more jobs, but a study in 2007 by USC Professor Charles Swenson found a significant benefit in both jobs and wages.

Irwin Grossman, the owner of Grossman Imaging Center, said he’d welcome the incentives. One of his medical company’s three offices is in the proposed enterprise zone, off of Rice Avenue.

“Every single building on my block has a ‘for lease’ sign on it, but we’re going counter to the trend,” Grossman said. “We’ve been doing very well.”

Grossman Imaging employs 47 people, and Grossman said he’d consider expanding, but the poor economy and uncertainty about the future of healthcare regulation has made him cautious.

An enterprise zone designation would be “a major, major help,” he said, especially with its incentives for purchasing equipment. Medical imaging devices can cost millions of dollars to buy and thousands more to install, Grossman said.

The deadline for applications is this Friday, March 27. According to page 43 of HCD’s Application Guidebook, the announcement of the new conditional designations will be announced on May 18, 2009.

Check the “2009 4 New Enterprise Zones” category for all of the updates on this topic.

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