By Vickie Aldous
for the Mail Tribune
Ashland has three new enterprise zones that will give property-tax exemptions to businesses that build facilities there and add new jobs.
The zones cover land along the railroad tracks and Hersey Street in central Ashland, property around the former Croman Mill site near Exit 14 and areas surrounding the Ashland Municipal Airport.
A business that builds new facilities and boosts its full-time employment by at least 10 percent can win an exemption from property taxes for three years, said city management analyst Adam Hanks.
The business can apply for an additional two years of tax exemptions if the new jobs it adds pay $52,722 or more annually, according to city officials.
Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. will help business owners learn whether they may qualify for the exemptions. It also can help them through the process, said SOREDI Executive Director Ron Fox.
“If a business believes it might have an expansion project, we’re here to help businesses make those expansions and create those employment opportunities,” he said.
Businesses must be “traded sector” companies, meaning they manufacture goods or create value-added services that are mainly sold outside the local area, Fox said. Qualifying business categories include manufacturing, fabrication, call centers, headquarter facilities, shipping and processing, Hanks said.
With the support of the City Council, Jackson County applied to the state government for approval of the new enterprise zones for Ashland.
Ashland, Eagle Point and Talent received approval for enterprise zones this month.
Enterprise zones already exist in the White City and Central Point areas, as well as in the towns of Rogue River and Butte Falls, Ashland city officials said.
Since 2007, seven companies in those established zones have invested more than $32.3 million and pledged to create at least 226 new full-time jobs, according to city officials.
Hanks said the new enterprise zones will help Ashland compete with other areas in the county that can offer property-tax exemptions through their enterprise zones.
Ashland, SOREDI and the Ashland Chamber of Commerce are working together to get the word out to businesses about the new enterprise zones, Hanks said.
E-commerce-zone designations can be added later to provide incentives for high-tech companies, he said.
The council recently adopted a goal to increase the number of Internet-based businesses in town by 50 percent over the next two years.
Hanks said enterprise zones do mean a loss in property-tax revenues for affected jurisdictions, but the exemptions could help persuade business owners to expand who otherwise might not do so.
After the tax exemption period is over, jurisdictions will be able to receive property tax revenue from the newly constructed facilities, Hanks said.
Companies in Jackson or Josephine County that wish to apply for the exemptions can contact SOREDI at 541-773-8946.
More information about enterprise zones also is available at www.dailytidings.com/enterprise-zones.
Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.