Representative Andy Olson presses enterprise zones

Profile on State Representative Andy Olson
By Taxpayer Association of Oregon

In the midst of a challenging economic recession, what solutions are Oregon’s leaders proposing to keep businesses in Oregon?

During a recent conversation with Representative Andy Olson, he shared an innovative idea to keep business in Oregon with a bill that allows “triggers” for enterprise zones. Enterprise zones allow an excellent opportunity for businesses to attract business investment through property tax relief. The enterprise zone allows a sponsor (city, state or tribal government) to exempt a business from property taxes for a temporary amount of time, usually three to five years. To qualify through the enterprise zones, there are requirements, including employment quotas, among others. The eventual goal is creating more jobs and raising local incomes.

A recent Corvallis Gazette-Times article outlined at least one local success of the enterprise zones. Natural Point Inc., a company that builds image tracking technology and computer control devices, plans to build a 17,000-square-foot building in Corvallis. The company’s 25 employees have outgrown their current location. At Natural Point’s new location, their new equipment and construction would be granted tax-exempt status.

To reflect the current economic downturn, Representative Andy Olson and Senator Frank Morse plan to introduce a bill that would change some of the policies of the regulations on enterprise zones during the February 2010 Session. The “triggers”, perhaps a two quarter downturn or drop in employment, would allow the sponsor (at their discretion) to provide a window of time for a business to regain their eligibility for property tax relief. During this window of time, the company retains their eligibility and pays their property taxes. Once business picks up again and they regain their eligibility, the company is again eligible for their property tax exemption. Representative Andy Olson says it is a “win-win” as communities are able to retain their business and the business continues to invest in the local economy.

A draft of the bill has already been submitted to Legislative Counsel. Both Representative Andy Olson and Senator Morse hope to hit the ground running in February and are encouraged that there is support for this legislative concept.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 15 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Steve Plunk

    Excuse my bluntness Rep. Olson but this is a gimmick. This kind of complicated economic trickery might help a few businesses in Oregon bit if you want to help ALL businesses start talking tax cuts and regulatory reform. Until serious pro business legislation is adopted Oregon business will continue to suffer.

    Also, stop using terms like “win-win”. The state government has been saying that for years but the evidence is the only winners are the government and the politically connected.

    • Eugene observer

      Has the regulatory system in Oregon hurt your business? How?

      • Steve Plunk

        Let’s see, regulations prevented me from subdividing my commercial property. Regulations limit how many vehicles can be washed weekly. Regulation of state forest land has hurt me like many others dependent on forest products. I’ve been hassled by OSHA even though my employees are subject to federal regulations. ODOT has maliciously audited my company (confirmed by the federal authorities) and weigh masters have slandered us without consequence. My costs for oil changes and repair work has gone up because of state regulations. Given time I could come up with more.

        • sensible moderate conservative

          Sounds like they’re really persecuting you from all directions. Do they do this to all truck companies or do they single you out?

  • Anonymous

    IF the enterprise zone idea is implemented the biggest challenge would be to avoid it being abused and corrupted like Tax Increment Financing-Urban Renewal.
    Never underestimate the ability of goverment loving bueaucrats to dream up schemes for municipallities to shift money to where they can play with it.

  • Anonymous

    Like Steve said above, this may be a good start for some, but real change is needed. We need to reduce all our taxes – but far more important than local property taxes are the cumbersome regulatory requirements to do business. By the time a new business has obtained all the necessary licenses and permits, paid all the fees, complied with the enviornmental impact study requirements, had all the inspections and audits, the ability to enter into a competitive global market is long gone.

  • Richard

    Enterprise zones is only a ploy for politicians to bring home the bacon. Another problem is it allows government to cherry pick what businesses are subsidized and not. Finally zones simply encourage poor business decisions as to meet regulations for the exemptions rather than what is best for the business.
    A better approach is to encourage free and open markets across Oregon, by lowering taxes and limiting regulations rather than just a zone in a city.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Andy Olson, are you reading this?

    Nice intention, but how about addressing the real issues as described in these comments?

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a way to save money! How about saving a ton of money and paving over all the light rail tracks and turning them in to express lanes. Talk about an absolute waste of money. West side light rail, I see it driving by with one or two people on board. What a joke. Governors Green Jobs – another myth. We are throwing tons of money away on Global warming initiatives, now shown to be a hoax by climate gate. Public employee Union people retiring after 30 years with full pay and Cadillac health benefits. At some point and time the state is going to collapse of it’s own debt burden. Furthermore we are going to have to spend good money to tear down all those stupid wind mills that GE is making billions over. I could go on and on. But what’s the use. The inmates are running the asylum.

    • anonymous

      Most PERS retirees don’t get “Cadillac health benefits.” They pay for their health insurance out of their own pockets, either electing coverage offered by the system’s providers or buying insurance on the open market.

      • Steve Plunk

        Don’t most PERS retirees get the first two years health insurance paid? After that aren’t they included in a pool that keeps their costs substantially lower than most retirees?

        • anonymous

          No, most PERS retirees don’t get get two free years of health insurance coverage. There may be some isolated cases where this has been bargained as part of a compensation package, but it certainly isn’t the norm.

          They’re not necessarily part of a pool. They may buy coverage on the private market. Or, if they purchase coverage through the PERS system, they are part of a group and, as such, their premiums may be lower, but it’s not government subsidized. It’s because a) they tend to be healthier as a group, thus allowing the insurance company to pay out less in benefits and pass those savings along in the form of lower premiums; and b) any large group–whether in public or private industry–tends to get lower rates. That’s the argument for group insurance coverage. It’s also the rationale for single payer national health insurance.

  • Jan

    How about suspending system development fees for three years. The coties & counties would collect higher property tax rates, but would forgo the fees for three years and allow businesses to grow, expand and hire again. By the time government is done assessing fees, there is no money left for smaller businesses to grow.

  • Diamond Jim Franconni

    The state is so screwed up in how it treats business I am surprised Nike is still here. What a bunch of pathetic, anit-business, loser politicians. They keep dreaming up junk like this (Oregon loves dreamers) when all they ever have to do is GET OUT OF THE WAY.
    Fools. Most certainly.
    Not one of them could get a job at a fast food joint.

  • Bob Tiernan

    Well, as someone mentioned earlier, this is gimmick. It’s an old idea, too, for it has come up from time to time as a solution to stagnant economic growth we get because of government micromanagement. Reminds me of free speech zones.

    The whole country is supposed to be an enterprise zone. These little gimmicks add to the myth that politicians know what their doing when it comes to this micromanagement — that they know which buttons to push, and which levers to pull, and which wheels to turn, and when. Even worse, it provides privileges to a few businesses while others are left out. This encourages more lobbying for privileges, and since this is about managed privileges it’s hardly an example of free enterprise at all. These two remind me of Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen who said that the flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers back in the mid-90s was good for the economy because of the construction work and clean-up jobs “created”. Clueless.

    Bob Tiernan
    Non-Affiliated voter

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