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Beloit on track for designation as development zone

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Gazette staff
March 30, 2011
— An Assembly committee voted Tuesday in favor of designating Beloit as the state's third development opportunity zone.

In 2009, Janesville and Kenosha were named development opportunity zones where qualifying businesses that make capital investments and/or create or retain jobs can qualify for state income tax credits of up to $5 million over five years, with an option for another five years and $5 million.


Beloit's previous designation as a development opportunity zone expired in September.


The Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Small Business approved renewing the designation Tuesday. A public hearing last week drew support from 45th Assembly Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, Beloit City Manager Larry Arft and Rock County Economic Development Director James Otterstein. Sen. Tim Cullen submitted written testimony.


Most of the information centered on Beloit's history as a previous development opportunity zone designee.


"Beloit has had tremendous success in attracting new businesses to the Gateway Business Park, in part through the tax credits associated with the recently expired development opportunity zone," said Loudenbeck, the author of Assembly Bill 13.


"Renewal and expansion of the DOZ will allow Beloit to continue to attract new business but also help existing businesses in the city center, the I-90 Industrial Park and other areas within the DOZ to qualify for the tax credits if they conduct activities that meet the guidelines under state law."


Beloit had the highest unemployment rate of any Wisconsin city from December 2008 until January, when Racine took the top spot.


Arft testified that opportunity zone tax credits since 2001 leveraged $123 million in private investment and created 626 new jobs at businesses such as the Staples order fulfillment center, Kettle Foods, Kerry Ingredients, Southeastern Container, Menlo Industries and Amp Electric.


Otterstein said incentives are one of five factors companies consider when examining a location. The others are the available workforce, real estate costs, the costs of doing business and infrastructure.


Cullen, the Senate co-sponsor, said the opportunity zone tax credits are performance-based, meaning that if the company doesn't create and sustain new jobs, they don't qualify for a tax credit.



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