The Camden County commission has not said when or even if they intend to pursue the use of Economic Enterprise Zones to enhance job creation within the county.
The use of EEZs is under consideration but the commission has not voted to move forward with the process according to Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. Before making a final decision, the commission will hold public meetings to determine what residents in Camden County want. The hearing dates have not been set.
In order to qualify as an EEZ, areas have to be designated as blighted and in need of improvements, be identified as having pervasive poverty, high unemployment and general distress.
According to information provided by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, EEZ's are specified geographic areas designated by local governments and certified by the Department of Economic Development. Designation is based on certain demographic criteria, the potential to create sustainable jobs and local impact. New or expanding businesses within the EEZs can be eligible for certain tax incentives.
"We have not formed the EEZ, we are taking comment on the blight statement to see if there is enough interest to proceed with an application. We have not even filed an application yet," Franken said. " It would enable the county to offer tax incentives to businesses who relocate to Camden County or to existing businesses who expand their operations as long as the operations are located inside the zone. In order to do this, we have to make a statement of economic blight, which basically says we need more jobs and our unemployment rate is too high."
At a meeting last week to discuss the possible use of EEZ's in Camden County, a group of residents questioned the county about the possible repercussions of designating areas as blighted.
Those who attended the meeting worry the designation could lead to lower property values that would, in turn, impact the real estate market.
Franken said in Morgan and Laclede counties where there are EEZs in place, there has
has been no negative impact on property values or any other negative impact. It has worked very well for Laclede county, as they have used theirs to attract businesses to their county.
Franken did not cite what project he was referring to in Laclede County.
Areas in Camden County that could be considered for designation are Linn Creek, Macks Creek, Sunrise Beach and a large area of unincorporated area of the county along the Highway 5 corridor, Franken said.