Chamber meet touts benefits of tax incentive

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2003

If you have to ask why businesses should relocate to the Selma area, you must have missed Thursday’s Buttonhole Breakfast.

More than 150 people listened as David Barley, manager of the technical assistance section with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, enumerated some of those reasons over eggs and sausage Thursday morning in the Carl C. Morgan Convention Center.

According to Barley, Selma lies within one of three Alabama renewal communities, a governmental designation allowing area businesses advantages. Barley said many businesses either don’t know about the renewal community’s advantages or are reluctant to use them for fear of too much bureaucratic red tape.

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But the red tape isn’t as bad as many think, he insisted.

Dallas County Probate Judge Johnny Jones said the renewal community program is the area’s most significant tool for economic development in a long time. &uot;It’s such a simple mechanism for business to use,&uot; Jones added.

Barley said one of those mechanisms includes a reduction in labor costs by 52 cents after taxes. Another enables businesses to undertake capital improvement projects the year they open their doors by writing off 50 percent of that year’s total expansion costs.

Some restrictions apply, of course. &uot;Sin&uot; businesses such as bars are typically exempt from renewal community benefits. Also, for a business to take advantage of reduced wage costs its employees must live and work within the renewal community.

Barley added that additions to the renewal community project were currently moving through the federal level in an attempt to assist those just outside the renewal zone.

Claire Twardy, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce, said big business isn’t the only benefactor of the renewal community. &uot;The small businesses can also benefit from this program,&uot; Twardy said.

Wayne Vardaman, president of the Centre for Commerce, agreed, adding that the renewal community helps keep businesses in the area and helps them expand.