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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