Support from communities across Nodaway County cleared the path for Friday's County Commission approval of language that will be used in applying for state permission to expand the list of industries eligible for tax breaks as members of a wind-power-only Enhanced Enterprise Zone.
Nodaway County Economic Development's Lee Langerock and EEZ board Chairman Jeff Mehlenbacher, superintendent of the Northeast Nodaway R-V School District, met briefly with the all three commissioners last week. The two officials said 11 of 13 affected municipalities have voiced support for expansion.
Meetings to discuss the move with officials in the two remaining communities, Conception and Arkoe, will be held in the coming days.
Langerock said permission from all 13 towns, a group that includes Maryville, is not required under state rules for the application to move forward. However, any town declining to sign off on the language will be unable to offer EEZ tax breaks to industries interested in locating within its borders.
Mehlenbacher said the municipal representatives he has met with so far have expressed support for the EEZ as long as the County Commission has the power to grant zone member status to businesses and factories on a case-by-case basis. Such authority has been part of zone rules from the start.
North District Commissioner Robert Westfall said it was important for citizens to realize the commission would not "rubber stamp" tax breaks without companies first adequately demonstrating their potential for capital investment and job creation.
Presiding Commissioner Robert Schieber has said several times that he would look askance at granting tax breaks to any company moving to Nodaway County in order to compete with an existing operation.
Langerock assured the commissioners, as she has done in the past, that EEZ tax breaks constitute a "discretionary program" and "not an entitlement" for any company that fits one of the proposed descriptions of allowable industries.
If the county's application is ultimately approved by the state Department of Economic Development, the reorganized zone will provide property tax reductions of between 50 and 70 percent to approved industries in four sectors: manufacturing; wholesale trade; transportation/warehousing; and professional, scientific and technical services, a category that includes research and development.
The level of tax abatement would vary depending on the number of jobs created and how much they pay as well as the amount of capital investment by each company.
Currently, tax abatements in the zone, which embraces about four-fifths of the county, apply only to wind energy companies. The lone wind farm already in Nodaway County is ineligible for membership.
Langerock said earlier that several existing firms are interested in expanding existing operations in the county if granted EEZ status. Another company, whose name and type of operation have not been disclosed, is reportedly considering moving to this area if approved for zone membership.
Page 2 of 2 - According to Langerock, those companies combined could generate $5 million in capital investment over the next five years along with about 120 new jobs.