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Enterprise Zone Expands In Santa Clarita

khts_businessnews3State approves inclusion of three shopping centers.

The city of Santa Clarita has received state approval to expand their Enterprise Zone designation, which offers California tax credits for businesses who meet certain standards of hiring or purchasing.

The Enterprise zone was first granted by the state to our area in 2007, and the latest addition will qualify businesses in Bridgeport Marketplace, Granary Square, and Baywood at Bridgeport.

"The Enterprise Zone continues to be one of Santa Clarita's most successful business retention and attraction tools and we are thrilled that our expansion request was approved by the State," said Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste. "We encourage all businesses in the new expansion areas and throughout the City to take advantage of this opportunity to realize significant tax savings."

So far over 150 businesses are taking advantage of tax credits through the program, however since 98% of all local non-residential businesses qualify, the City is pushing for more participation. This expansion was first approved by the City Council in April, and it was part of a two-pronged attack to promote and grow the program as part of a larger 21-point economic stimulus plan.

"One of the points of that was to make sure that every business that can take advantage of this enterprise zone, does," said Jason Crawford, economic development director for Santa Clarita. "And also expanding the enterprise zone to reach as many businesses as possible, so that everyone can take advantage of the benefits."

Enterprise zones offer a variety of benefits to businesses, including hiring tax credits, sales and use tax credits, income tax credits for employees, and more. Click here for full benefits list.

Amid the celebration for City Hall comes some potentially sour news. Newly appointed Speaker of the California Assembly John Perez has introduced AB 1139, which proposes restricting enterprise zones' qualified wage tax credits. If passed, the bill would only allow businesses to accept the tax credit if they pay for 80% of their qualifying employees' healthcare plans and those employees work over 35 hours per week.

Crawford says that adding such a restriction would be harmful to our economic recovery.

"To me, this is absolutely not the time to be doing that. What we need to see is businesses expanding, being successful, hiring people...that's what's going to get us out of the economic times we're in," he said. "Doing things that hamstring the enterprise zone is not going to get us there."

The bill is still in Assembly committee and has not yet been brought to a vote.