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Incentives behind businesses, Sayer plans to grow local economies

Local businesses respond to tax incentive plan

CHUBBUCK, Idaho - The state's top business leaders gathered today to talk about new ways to bring big businesses to local communities.

Idaho's Director of Commerce Jeff Sayer helped introduce a bill recently passed by the state legislature this past week that will give big businesses a tax break incentive if they decide to move into town.

"It's going to allow Idaho to be competitive on a whole different level than we've ever been before," Sayer said. "It puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the company to perform before the incentive is granted."

This piece of legislation would allow the state to refund up to 30 percent of state income taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes to the businesses who bring at least 50 jobs into urban areas and 20 jobs in rural communities.

After the bill was passed, the state's Attorney General's office later challenged it, deeming it "constitutionally vulnerable." 

On March 19, state lawmakers approved the final version which will now allows companies who don't qualify for an incentive to appeal that decision to put them in the running.

Sayer said this bill will act as a tool which caters to every city's assets, claiming this is the first statewide incentive plan Idaho has ever had which is accessible to every community.

"This won't change the responsibility of the community to have them go out and attract businesses, because that responsibility is still on every shoulder of the community leaders in the state. But this allows them a tool to become more competitive in those conversations and I think that's the key part we haven't had before."

This means communities such as Aberdeen, who is suffering from the closing of its Simplot plant, can still compete in the business market by luring-in businesses using this incentive.

And while communities such as Aberdeen are primarily agriculturally-driven, they will be able to target agricultural companies as well.

Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England said the recent economic downturn put a significant pause on the city's growth. However, with the upcoming events center moving in along with the recent addition of the AllState call center, Chubbuck is seeing a spike in rapid economic growth, and he feels this plan will help the city even further.

"We're excited the state is giving us another opportunity," England said. "This is one more tool in our toolkit we could go out and reach some of these businesses and offer them incentives to come here."

Sayer said if Idahoans stay ahead of the innovation curve, this plan will help the state start seeing growth in the agriculture-technology industry, nuclear research, and green energy and power.

With the potential for big businesses moving in, Sayer also noted local mom-and-pop shops won't be forced out of business. He said the local joints folks are used to won't be forced to figure out ways to compete because he believes thriving industries will bring more people flocking in.

The bill will also require qualifying companies to pay their workers to match at least the county's average wages in their respective fields. Click here to see a chart which lists the most recent average wage numbers in Bannock County:

Governor C.L. 'Butch' Otter is expected to sign the bill April 2, and it's slated to go into effect July, 1.

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