County receives EEZ designation

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has granted an Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) designation to Barry County, according to a press release issued by the Missouri DED on June 9.

"Approval of the EEZ puts Barry County on a more level playing field to compete with counties that adjoin us," said Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner. "In today's world businesses and industries are going to go where advantages like the EEZ are available."

Barry County will join Newton County and the City of Aurora, which were both previously designated as EEZs, said Warren.

"We are very excited to receive a county-wide EEZ designation," said Warren. "This will cover projects from Wheaton and Exeter to Washburn and Seligman and Purdy to Shell Knob.

"We wanted to make sure everyone was included," said Warren. "We felt it was important to have this in place for all the communities in our county."

The Barry County EEZ will encompass all of Barry County except areas covered by the City of Monett and the Monett School District, which opted out of the EEZ. The Jenkins Fire District was also exempted from EEZ consideration at the request of the fire district.

All Barry County municipalities participating in the EEZ have approved a tax abatement resolution, which will allow the abatement of a portion of taxes for qualifying businesses located within the EEZ.

According to the resolution, new businesses must create a minimum of two full-time jobs and invest a minimum of $100,000 to be eligible for 50 percent real property tax abatement for 10 years. Businesses leasing property can also qualify for abatement if eight times the annual lease payment is equal or greater than $100,000.

Existing Barry County businesses that add at least two full-time employees and invest at least $100,000 will be eligible for 60 percent tax abatement.

Businesses can increase the amount of the abatement by adding more than two full-time employees, setting the average new payroll over 110 percent of the county average or investing over $500,000 in the local business. The maximum abatement is 100 percent.

Businesses in the Barry County EEZ will be reviewed each June to determine tax abatement eligibility.

Industries eligible for tax abatement include: agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction; utilities; construction; manufacturing; wholesale trade; transportation and warehousing; information; finance and insurance; real estate rental and leasing; professional, scientific and technical services; management of companies and enterprises; administrative support, waste management and remediation services; healthcare and social assistance; arts, entertainment and recreation; and accommodations and food services.

Industries excluded from tax abatement eligibility are: hog and pig farming; poultry and egg production; video tapes and disc rentals; adult entertainment; gambling; food and drinking places; rooming and boarding houses; religious organizations; retail trade; educational services; and public administration.

The Barry County EEZ will be in effect for 25 years.

The tax abatement resolution was created by the Barry County EEZ Board. Members of the board include: Bill Easley, chairman; Richard Asbill; Dennis Baker; Mike Bennett; Steve Decocq; Mark Shumaker; and Bob Stewart. The members were appointed by the Barry County Commission in July of 2010.

"The County Commission wants to acknowledge the hard work of Bill Easley and the EEZ Board in creating a very workable structure and application," said Warren. "The mayors and city councils of the seven cities levying taxes in the county also were immensely helpful in getting this application through."

There are currently 104 EEZ designations in Missouri.

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