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Riverside County leaders call for continued state support of economic enterprise zones

By Jeff Stahl, KESQ News Channel 3 Morning News Anchor, jstahl@kesq.com
Published On: Feb 27 2013 09:34:15 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 27 2013 11:01:00 AM CST
Coachella Mayor Eduardo Garcia Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone Authority Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Undated file photo of Coachella Enterprise Zone ribbon cutting ceremony.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -

Riverside County Supervisors called on state officials Tuesday to support California's Enterprise Zone program.  The board also hopes to avoid anti-business regulatory changes they said would increase costs to businesses that hire workers in communities with high rates of poverty and unemployment.

Supervisor John Benoit authored a resolution in support of the business incentive program which offers hiring credits, sales and use tax credits among other benefits to employers located in one of 40 enterprise zones.

In a statement from Benoit's office, the supervisor said, "This program is an economic stimulator that has created more than 2,200 local jobs in the last three years."

The 56-square-mile Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone Authority is Riverside County's only designated Enterprise Zone.  It includes the communities of Coachella, Indio, Mecca, Thermal and Thousand Palms.

Benoit is a member of the Enterprise Zone Authority.  He said, "California cannot afford to do away with this economic development tool and lose businesses and jobs to states that provide a more business-friendly environment."

Benoit's office said the enterprise zone has issued 6,549 hiring credit vouchers with local businesses over the past three years reporting 2,247 of those as new positions.

"I am encouraged that Riverside County and its economic development staff continue to support the Enterprise Zone program," said Mark Weber, zone manager for CVEZA. "The Enterprise Zone is important to economic development, capital investment, job creation and job retention in our community."

Governor Jerry Brown proposed cutting enterprise zone tax incentives in 2011, but abandoned the effort in his May 2011 budget revision because he could not get the support of two-thirds of the Legislature.

Brown is trying again, calling for sweeping regulatory changes to the Enterprise Zone program.   If enacted, Benoit's office said these changes will dramatically impact local agencies that administer the program and increase costs to businesses struggling to expand or simply keep their doors open.

Copies of the supervisor's resolution will be sent to Gov. Brown, the California Department of Housing and Community Development and Riverside County's state legislative delegation.