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New enterprise zone already boosting economy

'LIVE' from City Hall

Posted: April 27, 2008 8:18 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

After nine full months of operation, the city of Santa Clarita's Enterprise Zone has proven to be an amazing new tool in the economic development toolbox, benefiting the local business community. All types of city-based businesses have taken advantage of the hiring tax credit including car dealers, restaurants, retail, and industrial and manufacturing companies.

Since last July's final designation date, 569 people have gone through the pre-screening process resulting in 95 vouchers being issued. The city will issue a hiring tax credit voucher to a business for each qualified employee hired by a business located in the Enterprise Zone.

The voucher certifies that the employee meets the eligibility requirements for a qualified individual and is one of the supporting documents to substantiate a business' claim for a tax credit for hiring a qualified individual.

Santa Clarita businesses that have vouchered employees include:

* Turbine Industries
* Aerospace Dynamics
* Aero Engineering & Manufacturing
* Meschkat Precision Machinery
* Wal-mart
* Universal Framing Products
* U.S. HealthWorks
* Macy's
* Welster Filter Group
* 99 Cents Only Store
* Frontier Toyota
* Valencia Auto Care
* Valencia Acura
* Salt Creek Grille
* True Positions Technologies
* Paragon Precision
* AV Equipment Rental
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With 97 percent of all commercially zoned land in the city of Santa Clarita included in the Enterprise Zone boundaries, the Enterprise Zone provides nearly all of the city's businesses with a variety of benefits, incentives and tax credits. Some of these advantages include sales or use tax credits, business expense deduction, net interest deductions, and the hiring tax credit.

Enterprise Zone staff has been busy holding informational workshops on a regular basis to educate existing and potential employers and employees about the benefits of being in the zone. Nearly 100 businesses have already attended workshops to become better informed of tax benefits and employee vouchering regulations. In addition, the city has been busy with numerous on-site visits to businesses to talk to the owners and the employees regarding the zone on a one-to-one basis.

Vouchering agent
To aid city-based businesses in the application process, a vouchering agent is on staff to pre-screen job seekers and employees for eligibility in the program. The vouchering agent reviews the various categories in which a job seeker or employee might qualify for the program. The pre-screen process seeks to identify applicants who are qualified in one or more categories approved by the state of California. Businesses located in the Enterprise Zone that hire qualified applicants may be eligible for hiring tax credits up to $36,000 and more over a five-year period.

Additionally, employees within the zone may be eligible for Enterprise Zone-related benefits if they reside in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). A TEA is described as a census tract that houses residents that would potentially benefit the most from opportunities provided by an enterprise zone. There are four recognized TEAS in Santa Clarita, and they are identified on the city's Web site at scenterprisezone.com.
Potential employees residing within a TEA automatically qualify for the program.

The Santa Clarita Enterprise Zone office has several informational tools to provide assistance to businesses including a brochure, a newly redesigned Web site and an Employer Voucher Application Packet.

The brochures are available at City Hall, the Santa Clarita Worksource Center, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center, the Valley Industrial Association and the local office of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation. The brochure includes a map of the Enterprise Zone boundaries and information on the benefits and incentives available to businesses located in the zone.

Web site for zone
More information is available at www.SCenterprisezone.com, which is an easy-to-use Web site that includes boundary maps, zone street ranges and TEA locations. Additionally, users can find information on all of the Enterprise Zone benefits and tax credits and a section on frequently asked questions. An employer can download the complete Employer Voucher Application Packet that has step-by-step instructions to qualify and pre-screen employees.

With the Santa Clarita Enterprise Zone in effect for 15 years, the tax savings for the nearly 6,000 businesses in the city should be substantial. The Enterprise Zone program's incentives promote business investment and job creation while encouraging entrepreneurship and employer growth.

Don Fleming of Valencia Acura has been one of the first business owners to take advantage of the program.

"The Enterprise Zone has saved me $10,000 that I wouldn't have otherwise saved. It works, and it's easy," stated Fleming. Fleming's wife, Cheri, agrees, saying, "If Don can do this, anyone can!"

City Enterprise Zone staff are happy to answer any and all questions regarding the zone, set up individual appointments either at City Hall or at your place of business, and will pre-screen potential employees at the Santa Clarita Worksource Center or at individual businesses by appointment. For more information, call the city at (661) 255-4347.

Ken Striplin is Santa Clarita assistant city manager. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Live from City Hall" is a column provided to The Signal by the city of Santa Clarita.

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