The Barry County Commission and newly established Barry County Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) held a public hearing last Thursday at the Barry County Courthouse to accept public comments regarding the establishment of an EEZ in Barry County. In addition, Carol Shoemaker, Enhance Enterprise Zone coordinator with the Missouri Department of Commerce, attended.
|No objections were raised by those attending the public hearing. Most in attendance were curious about the program's details and process.|
The Barry County EEZ Board has met over the past four months to customize criteria and guidelines for the zone's application. The EEZ Board made recommendations to the Barry County Commission concerning specific industries for inclusion or exclusion in the Barry County EEZ zone and the levels of abatement. The Barry County Commission passed a resolution accepting the EEZ Board's recommendations.
The next step is for the Barry County Commission to submit an application to the Missouri Department of Economic Development requesting designation as an EEZ zone. The zone encompasses all of Barry County, with the exception of the Monett area, which requested to be excluded. The EEZ will be in effect for a period of 25 years.
Missouri statutes dictate the minimum requirements for a business to qualify for tax abatement in any EEZ Zone. Currently, there are 87 EEZs in Missouri. The minimum requirements are the addition of two new employees with 50 percent of the employees' healthcare premiums being covered, and a minimum $100,000 in new capital investment. In return, the company or industry receives a minimum 50 percent real property tax abatement for 10 years.
|"It is important to note that these tax abatements are not just for new companies to the area," said Barry County EEZ Board President Bill Easley. "Businesses already operating in Barry County and paying taxes may also qualify for tax abatement when they expand. We especially hope to encourage and grant abatements to those companies already contributing to our county's economy and quality of life."||The resolution adopted by the Barry County Commission earlier this month outlines the amount of real property abatement for existing business owners at 60 percent for a minimum of 10 years. For new companies starting out in the county, the abatement level starts at 50 percent. The abatement levels grow incrementally based upon the number of new employees added and the amount of capital investment over the minimum $100,000.|
|Presently, Lynette Dilbeck, Cassville's Economic Development director, is working with the EEZ Board and Barry County Commission on the application. Part of the process will be working with municipalities in Barry County, interviewing city officials and photographing blighted areas to submit with the application to the DED.||"The State of Missouri has specific criteria identifying what is a blighted area, and it is not always as scary as it sounds," said Dilbeck. "A blighted area might include a block of businesses that was burned out or a business that has closed its doors. Identifying and giving examples of blighted areas in the county helps explain what, where and why an EEZ is needed in the county. We must also include a strategic plan that explains how the Commission and Board intend to assist these areas."||The application to establish the EEZ area will be forwarded to the Missouri Department of Economic Development in the next few weeks. At the public hearing, EEZ Coordinator Shoemaker said Barry County could expect an answer regarding a designation within 60 to 90 days from submission of the application.|