The Center of the California Enterprise Zone Information Universe

Zone Manager Interviews

A pair of Enterprise Zone managers recently answered questions for local papers. Andy Myrick, manager of the Salinas Valley zone conducted an extensive interview in the Californian. And Wendy Clements from the San Bernardino zone was interviewed in The Sun.

The following are some highlights from Andy Myrick’s interview:

Q: Well, isn’t it true that some businesses have come to Salinas in part for the tax incentives offered by the enterprise zone?

A: Yes, Lowe’s was attracted. Green Vehicles was attracted. Many companies have expressed that the enterprise zone factors into their equations. I can tell you companies that have expressed that say they like the enterprise zone but I can’t tell you who has applied for voucher certificates.

Q: The cities in the enterprise zone are lining up to add Castroville. Is bigger necessarily better?

A: In the case of bringing in Castroville, yes. This particular expansion is focused on the industrial park. Industrial businesses don’t produce a lot of revenues because of the jurisdiction that they’re in. But what’s good about industrial businesses is that they hire a lot of people and they pay better wages. So maybe those businesses aren’t in Salinas, but they’re hiring people from Salinas, Gonzales, north county. So helping them out really does help the region. Including Castroville is a logical step.

Q: What else does an enterprise zone do?

A: It’s not just about economic development. It’s also about helping those communities that need the most help. Pebble Beach doesn’t need an enterprise zone. We need one in the Salinas Valley. Unemployment topped 40 percent in Chualar and 25 percent in the valley last winter. Understand what that does socially to a community. We’re at great depression levels right here in Salinas. That’s not acceptable. We need to find jobs for people and the government is not going to provide them.

And the following from Wendy Clement’s:

Q: What is the one incentive you’d like to highlight for businesses in light of today’s difficult economy?

A: The hiring tax credit. That’s the simplest one and the one that is the easiest thing to do. People aren’t hiring at a high scale, but usually you’re doing some hiring. This credit is retroactive to ’06. Those are some numbers that can be captured. It’s the most beneficial and lucrative and this is a five-year credit. Even if you’re not hiring right now and you’ve been in the enterprise zone since ’06, it’s worth looking back at the employees you’ve hired from ’06 and forward.

Q: The zone became designated as we were heading into an economic recession. What challenges has the zone faced since its creation?

A: Our challenge is there is not a lot of new development going on, or people looking to expand or come into the area. That is our challenge, the economy right now. We have seen new companies move in in the last year because of the enterprise zone: Royal Appliance, Leggett & Platt, Kohl’s e-commerce site, and Dollar Tree. So we are seeing some things happening, but our real challenge is people don’t understand the benefits of the program and consistently we’re trying to get out there and market.

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