By Leon Worden/SCVNEWS.com
For all intents and purposes, the Santa Clarita Valley’s Enterprise Zone is a reality. Business owners and operators in the city and county can log on to scenterprisezone.com or call 661-255-4347 to find out if they qualify for hiring tax credits and other incentives the state provides to create jobs and buoy the economy.
But technically speaking, the Santa Clarita Valley Enterprise Zone isn’t a done deal.
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In December 2010 the California Department of Housing and Community Development granted conditional approval to the SCV’s 14,000-acre enterprise zone, which includes most of the city of Santa Clarita and 4,700 acres of the unincorporated valley.
As a political division of the state, the county of Los Angeles is the lead agency, tasked with doing the work necessary for final approval.
Then Gov. Jerry Brown came up with the idea of killing enterprise zones and redevelopment agencies as a means of bringing the state budget into balance.
Economists rushed to the defense of enterprise zones and – unlike redevelopment agencies – their death sentence was commuted.
But the Housing and Community Development Department continued to put its enterprise zone approvals on hold as it waited to see how the budget battle would shake out.
Now, according to a county staff report, the state is “ready to move forward with granting final designation status.”
What that means is that the county Board of Supervisors must approve reports – an initial study and negative declaration – showing the creation of the enterprise zone won’t have any adverse environmental impacts. Then it must submit the final paperwork to the state so it can sign off.
County staff is recommending that the supervisors do just that at their meeting Tuesday.
In addition, the county’s community development director, Sean Rogan, is asking the supervisors to approve a memorandum of understanding with the city of Santa Clarita that would put the city in charge of administering the zone for both the city and county.
It’s the opposite approach Rogan is recommending for another enterprise zone Tuesday for the Harbor Gateway. In that one, the county and the cities of Los Angeles and Huntington Park will be responsible for administering the enterprise zone in their respective jurisdictions.
According to Rogan’s staff report, the agreement with Santa Clarita will “include goals to ensure that unincorporated area businesses benefit from this program. The city will fund the administration of the zone with fees generated through the program.”
If all goes as planned, qualifying businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley won’t notice any difference – and the city and county will continue to have state support for their job creation efforts.