Valley businesses fight to keep enterprise zone designation

FRESNO,

Jobs would have to be cut at Holt Lumber in downtown Fresno if enterprise zone designations were eliminated. The company took advantage of hiring credits to add ten of its thirty employees and tax credits to buy a new saw.

Controller David Powers said the valley would be hit hard if the governor is able to repeal the enterprise zone. Powers explained, "It's gonna trickle down to eventually losing employees. Not only do we suffer, the employees suffer but our customers and the community, everybody suffers."

Local leaders gathered downtown to let the governor know how important the tax breaks were to Fresno County last year.

Steve Geil of the Economic Development Corporation said, "Over 16,000 people were either hired or retained in their jobs because of the enterprise zone."

ZJ's Auto Body in Clovis was able to add three more jobs a year ago.

Investment in economically distressed areas is the goal. Companies get reimbursed for hiring workers.

Shop owner Kim Torres said, "I believe the number is about 37-thousand dollars a year for a full-time regular employee."

Toma Tek in Firebaugh has relied on enterprise zone hiring credits to employ a thousand people during tomato season. Unemployment rates on the valley's west side are always among the state's highest.

Human Resources Manager Hortencia Gabriel said, "More jobs and more training that we're doing for our employees would definitely go away because we wouldn't be able to hire as many."

But the Public Policy Institute of California said enterprise zones have no effect on job or business creation.

The governor believes their elimination could save 900-million dollars in tax credits.

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