City Council decisions on JOBZ, Ten Commandments issue expected Monday
The City Council is expected to approve 11 tax free zones, including land for expansion at Stora Enzo. It might also make progress on the Ten Commandments controversy at Monday night's meeting. The zones are part of a statewide effort to promote ...
The City Council is expected to approve 11 tax free zones, including land for expansion at Stora Enzo.
It might also make progress on the Ten Commandments controversy at Monday night's meeting.
The zones are part of a statewide effort to promote economic development. Officially known as "Job Opportunity Building Zones" or "JOBZ" the Duluth sites are among about 4,000 acres awarded potential tax free status in the seven county Arrowhead region.
The resolution on council agenda covers 351 acres.
The zones offer a 12-year exemption to taxes, plus tax credit for job creation. To qualify businesses have to start, relocate or expand in the zone and meet jobs creation and investment goals.
The Duluth list includes 14 acres at Stora Enzo, 96 acres at the Airpark at 62 acres at the old Atlas Cement Plant, currently being acquired by the city.
Other sites are the harbor, Duluth Airport Authority, the former box factory, Polaris Wilbert Vault, DMIR Railway, Clyde-Oneota, Rice's Point and the Union Pacific Railyard.
Other zones in the region include mining sites and industrial parks.
The zones were designed to create high paying manufacturing jobs. To ensure this, lawmakers are considering a bill that would exclude all types of retailers from taking advantage of the program.
"While the JOBZ program is controversial, if utilized properly, it can foster growth of high paying jobs that otherwise would not have located in these areas of outstate Minnesota," said Mike Hickey, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. "Allowing large national retailers to benefit from the program provides them with an unfair competitive advantage."
It appears the council will vote to settle a lawsuit by the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union to remove the Ten Commandments display from city property.
However, the St. Paul based group may not get the terms it wants. The proposed settlement includes having the city transfer ownership to a nongovernmental entity no later than Aug. 15 and other stipulations.
But Councilor Greg Gilbert objected to any settlement beyond removal and several other councilors agreed. It now appears the council will amend the settlement and sent it back.
An ordinance that would transfer the monument to the county is expected to be removed from the agenda.