Benoit Condemns Elimination of Enterprise Zones
PALM DESERT – Gov. Brown’s decision to sign legislation eliminating California’s Enterprise Zone program will kill jobs and likely chase away businesses in the Coachella Valley’s poorest communities, said Supervisor John J. Benoit.
“The Enterprise Zone reached out to businesses and made it easy for them to understand and utilize these incentives. It was an economic development tool we promoted to bring jobs to areas with high rates of poverty and unemployment,” said Supervisor Benoit, who is a member of the Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone Authority.
“This legislation dismantles an effective, locally administered program, replacing it with woefully inadequate incentives and red tape. The demise of our Enterprise Zone hurts businesses in this economy. I am equally concerned about the hard-working people that rely on these jobs to make ends meet.”
The Enterprise Zone program offered hiring credits, sales and use tax credits and a few more reasonable benefits to employers located in one of 40 enterprise zones. The 56-square-mile Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone Authority (CVEZA) is Riverside County’s only designated Enterprise Zone, spanning the cities of Coachella and Indio and communities of Mecca, Thermal and Thousand Palms. Over the past three years, the CVEZA issued 6,549 hiring credit vouchers with local businesses reporting 2,247 of those as new jobs.
Assembly Bill 93 eliminated Enterprise Zones, replacing the program with rigid qualification requirements for businesses to claim the hiring credit. Among the limitations, only full-time employees paid between $12 and $28 per hour will be considered for the hiring credit and they must meet the criteria of long-term unemployed workers, veterans, ex-offenders or Earned Income Tax Credit recipients. Businesses seeking to use credits must request a tentative credit reservation with the Franchise Tax Board within 30 days of hiring.
The local Enterprise Zone has done preliminary analysis of current voucher data, finding that less than 1 percent of the current vouchers would qualify under the new parameters.
The Coachella Valley Enterprise Zone Authority is making plans to end on Dec. 31, 2013.