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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Release No. M-109-07
MAYOR PROPOSES AGRICULTURE ENTERPRISE ZONE
The Enterprise Zone Program is a joint effort of the county and State governments that offers certain tax and other incentives to stimulate business activity and job creation in agriculture, manufacturing, wholesaling, high technology, and educational services, among others.
Mayor Hannemann said, “Having developed agriculture experience with C. Brewer and Company, which at one time was one of Hawaii’s largest agribusiness; with former Governor George Ariyoshi, who championed agriculture parks and diversified agriculture; and as director of the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, where we promoted Hawaii-grown commodities, I can attest to the importance of this industry to feeding our people, to supporting related businesses, and to preserving the green, open spaces that make us unique.
“This is also in keeping with the goals of our 21st Century Ahupua‘a, in which we are striving to protect our watershed and support sustainability with ideas and projects that yield practical, near-term results.”
The proposal for a Waimanalo EZ was approved by the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board in 2002. Mayor Hannemann was approached recently by a group of interested farmers and asked for his support in pursuing this designation.
Dean Okimoto, head of Nalo Farms and the Hawaii Farm Bureau, expressed his interest in participating: “It’s good for an area like Waimanalo with so many agricultural businesses, which could qualify for Enterprise Zone benefits. Such a designation would enable small farm businesses to grow into larger, more sustainable enterprises.”
Fred Humphrey, of Island Grower Supplies and a member of the Waimanalo Neighborhood Board, said, “I own a small agricultural distribution company that services farms and plant nurseries throughout the state. I attended a few meetings years ago when the
While at DBEDT, Hannemann was successful in collaborating with
Hannemann noted, “Waimanalo is an ideal location for an Enterprise Zone because of the number of farms there. The continued success of agriculture will also discourage urban encroachment on valuable farm land.”
The City administration has supported agriculture in other ways, including reducing property taxes on farm land; convening agriculture theft community meetings to stem the alarming rise in stolen produce; supporting the Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council with an annual grant of $40,000 to aid farmers with soil conservation and management; and sponsoring an Agriculture Day at Honolulu Hale to showcase the variety and viability of local agricultural businesses.
The Hawaii Legislature created the Enterprise Zone Program in 1986. As codified in Chapter 209E, Hawaii Revised Statutes, it involves the selection and nomination by each of the counties of up to six designated Enterprise Zones that satisfy income or unemployment criteria. When approved by the governor, the designation lasts for 20 years.
An EZ must be contiguous and meet statutory eligibility requirements based on the latest Census. Twenty-five percent of the population must have incomes below 80 percent of the median family income of the county or an unemployment rate 1.5 times the state average. The two designated census tracts in Waimanalo, 113.01 and 113.02, meet this requirement.
Benefits to businesses include a 100-percent exemption from the General Excise Tax (GET), income tax credits, and exemptions from the GET by licensed contractors on revenue from construction done at the EZ site of businesses enrolled in the program.
In the 10 years of the EZ’s existence, the dollar value of waived building and grading permits has been $126,000. The related construction was valued at more than $15 million. Just over $531,000 in real property tax rebates on construction improvements were issued. The companies receiving rebates collectively increased their employee count by 92 full-time jobs.
For the tax year ending 2006, there were 205 firms statewide (132 on Oahu) participating in the Enterprise Zone Program. They reported the creation of 830 new jobs for the year.
Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928
|Tuesday, October 23, 2007|