Thursday, January 06, 2000

Enterprise zones may be folded

N.Ky. pushes to keep two

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — An economic development tax-break program that has been used by nearly 400 businesses in Covington and Campbell County may be discontinued by the Kentucky General Assembly.

        State lawmakers are talking about redesigning the state's enterprise zone law by expanding it to other regions and possibly allowing the program to end in Northern Kentucky.

        There are 10 enterprise zones in the state, including the two in Northern Kentucky.

        “I think it's a good program, but maybe it ought to be expanded to some of the more economically depressed areas of the state,” Sen. Vernie McGa ha, R-Russell Springs, said Wednesday during a meeting of the Senate Economic Development, Tourism and Labor Committee.

        There is apparently also sentiment in the Kentucky House to retool the law so more areas can benefit from it, said Steve Stevens, a lobbyist for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

        There will also be proposals to let the law expire in areas already successfully using enterprise zones to attract jobs and business investment, he said.

        Mr. Stevens said the chamber is pushing for the two zones to be maintained in Northern Kentucky, and even expanded in that and other regions of the state.

        “You can see just what happened with LaFarge in Campbell County. They used it, and said it was definitely in the equation on their decision to come here.”

        The LaFarge Co. is building a $90 million drywall manufacturing plant along the Ohio River in Silver Grove that will employ about 100 people when it opens later this year.

        “Enterprise zones are one of the things that helps us stay competitive in attracting companies to the area,” Mr. Stevens said.

        Between Oct. 1, 1998, and Sept. 31, 1999 — the most recent reporting period available — companies in the Northern Kentucky enterprise zones invested more than $110 million, said Phyllis Bruning, the state's director of enterprise zones.

        In that period, nine businesses that created 93 jobs qualified for tax breaks in the Covington zone, which covers the entire city.

        Nine businesses that created 90 jobs received the breaks in the Campbell County zone, which covers Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Wilder, Silver Grove and Highland Heights.

        Under the program, businesses that qualify receive tax breaks on building materials, state payroll tax and other taxes.


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