Callaway County Commissioners Propose "Enhanced Enterprise Zone"

Callaway County Commissioners want to declare 20 percent of the county blighted.

They say the blighted status will allow the county to create what's called an â??Enhanced Enterprise Zoneâ??.

The move could bring jobs and give the local economy a shot in the arm.

It was standing room only Thursday at a public meeting at the Callaway County Health Department, and residents wanted to know how a proposed Enhanced Enterprise Zone would affect their property values and insurance rates.

Gary Jungermann, Presiding Commissioner said, "People are proud of their land, and proud of who they are, so they have some real concerns on what it's going to do and effect, potentially their way of life."

An E-E-Z provides tax credits to new or expanding business that locate in the zone.

The state draws up the boundaries.

Critics say the tax breaks aren't free and it's a redistribution of income from the tax payer to businesses.

Mitch Hubbard said, "Economic Enhanced Enterprise Zones have been shown to be ineffective. Susan Montee our state auditor in 2010 did reports that actually said there was no proof that these are economically a beneficial use of taxpayer dollars."

Supporters say it will even the playing field with other counties and make Callaway more attractive to companies to relocate.

Jungerman said, "Other cities and counties have used the enhanced enterprise zone as a tool to help draw business into the community especially small business."

124 other Missouri cities have an EEZ.

Former state representative and Audrain County Commissioner Steve Hobbs said it's been a success there, enticing Spartan Light Metals to expand there and add 40 new jobs.