Planning Commissioners hear of Enterprise Zone plans

Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 07:02 PM.

CHIPLEY — Washington County Planning Commissioners were updated on the efforts to extend the Enterprise Zones in Ebro and Vernon during their November meeting on Tuesday.

“The Chamber has been meeting with the city councils in Ebro and Vernon discussing expanding their Enterprise Zones, and since part of this is also in the county, the county will have to approve it as well,” said Mike DeRuntz, senior planner for Washington County.

An Enterprise Zone is a state-created area for industrial or commercial development that offers incentives to businesses in order to create jobs. Those incentives include jobs creation tax credits, electrical energy tax credits, sales tax refunds for jobs creation and building materials, property tax credits for jobs creation and sales tax refunds for business equipment and machinery.

Last year the state Legislature passed a new law allowing counties to expand their Enterprise Zones, and Washington County will be allowed to expand its areas by three miles, which Washington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ted Everett plans to divide between Ebro and Vernon.

The Vernon City Council approved changing the Enterprise Zone during their Sept. 23 meeting, and Everett is working with engineer Garrett Martin of Atkins, an engineering firm located in Chipley, to create maps of the two Enterprise Zones.

DeRuntz said he was concerned about including the east side of Highway 79 north of Vernon in the Enterprise Zone, since that area is a flood plain. Commissioner David Morris agreed.

“The highway expansion is taking away a lot of their town,” DeRuntz said. “This can be a chance for Vernon to redefine themselves and reshape that community.”

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