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House approves tax breaks for jobs

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure that could see businesses in Dallas County saving thousands of dollars in tax credits.

The bill is The Tax Extenders Act of 2009, which provides a year’s extension of expiring tax provisions, including the empowerment zones and renewal communities, which are tax incentives for job creation in economically distressed communities with high unemployment.

Rep. Artur Davis (D-Birmingham) of the 7th Congressional District inserted this key provision, which affects the Greene-Sumter Renewal Community; the Southern Alabama Renewal Community and the Mobile Renewal Community. The Southern Alabama Renewal Community includes Butler, Conecuh, Dallas, Hale, Lowdnes, Marengo, Monroe, Perry and Wilcox counties.

“The dominant priority in my district and my state is jobs — protecting the jobs we have and creating new jobs,” Davis said. “In the past two years, the extension of these incentives for job creation has been one of my most significant legislative projects.

Davis pointed to the testimony of Carl Barranco, the secretary and treasurer of American Apparel Inc. given before the Ways and Means Committee in October in which Barranco told House leaders the expiration of the tax incentives would have caused some companies to relocate or close their doors.

American Apparel has operations in Selma and Ft. Deposit, both in renewal communities.

Barranco, reached at his office in Selma Wednesday, praised Davis’ efforts for the bill passing the House. “We had hoped for more than the one-year extension, but we are very grateful to have the one-year extension,” Barranco said.

The measure goes now to the Senate Finance Committee for its consideration.

Wayne Vardaman, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority, said, “That’s fantastic! It’s exciting. We’ve been working on this thing two-to-three years.

If the measure passes the Senate and is signed into law, it could mean millions of dollars for the area, Vardaman said.

Manufacturers and retailers receive a $1,500 tax credit for hiring employees who live and work in the renewal communities, he said.