Salisbury, County Meet On Enterprise Zones

SALISBURY – City officials last week met with the Wicomico County Council to discuss the renewal of Enterprise Zones in the area.

According to Assistant City Administrator Lore Chambers of Salisbury, the Salisbury/Wicomico Enterprise Zone Designation expires on Dec. 14, 2012, and there is only one reapplication oppurtunity left, Oct. 15. The City Council and County Council must approve a resolution to submit the application before that time.

The Department of Business and Economic Development administers the Enterprise Zone Program. The program is a incentive for business development in priority funding areas through the provision of real property tax credits, personal property tax credits, and income tax credits.

For real property tax credits, in 10 years an 80-percent credit is given against local property taxes on a portion of real property improvements, and a one- or three-year credit for wages paid to new employees for income tax credits. The general credit is a one-time, $1,000 credit for each new qualified position. For economically disadvantaged employees, the credit increases to a total of $6,000 per worker distributed over three years.

The Salisbury/Wicomico Enterprise Zone was designated in 1982 and was the first county in the state to create a zone. Today Salisbury/Wicomico’s Enterprise XZone is made of 4,000 acres.

Since 1991, 66 businesses have received approval under the program and in the past five years 21 out of those 66 businesses have participated in the creation of 179 new jobs, and the number of jobs created by all of the businesses in that time total 1,878.

Chambers furthered that the City of Salisbury has set conditions to participate in the program, which is to create at least two jobs or make improvement at a cost of at least $50,000 to the facility. The conditions are to ensure that small businesses can take atvantage of the program and are proposed to remain the same.

In review, the Enterprise Zone map shows the need to add two new areas where older businesses could also benefit from revitalization along Vine Street on the eastside of Salisbury and the Snow Hill Road area, which has several small businesses from Main Street to Beaglin Park Drive, as well as additional areas along Route 13 North corridor.

Last week, Chambers, along with Dave Ryan of Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development (SWED) and Lori Carter of Planning and Zoning met with the County Council to discuss the matter.

Ryan explained there are 28 zones throughout Maryland, each allowed to set their own standards.

“It is time to decide whether we want to continue with the program first, and then if those local standards are acceptable today, as well as look at the areas included and if the new areas are applicable,” he said.

As the council looked over the proposed Enterprise Zone map, there were a couple of suggestions of redefinition, such as the boundary of the zone along Snow Hill Road where the commercial and residential areas meet.

“I would like to see something better,” Councilwoman Stevie Prettyman said.

Councilwoman Sheree Sample Hughes agreed with the two additions to the map but added to keep in mind the poverty level of certain areas to ensure they can qualify for the standards set.

Once the City and County Council give the okay to move forward each body will have to pass a resolution for the application to be submitted. As the discussion came to a close, the council was in consensus to participate in the program and to move forward.