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Archive for Saturday, January 22, 2005

Economic development board to review incentives

Area leaders seek ways to attract businesses

January 22, 2005

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Members of the Lawrence/Douglas County Economic Development Advisory Board will meet Monday to discuss efforts to boost incentives for businesses looking to relocate and expand in the Lawrence area.

Board members expect to review a host of possibilities, from creating a forgivable loan program for businesses investing in the area to adjusting the existing policy for granting tax abatements.

Officials from the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce have been reviewing programs in other communities to see what might work in Lawrence and elsewhere in the county.

Manhattan, Topeka and several communities in the Kansas City area already offer forgivable loans to businesses that live up to their expectations for new employment, said Lynn Parman, the chamber's vice president for economic development.

Such programs typically loan companies between $500 and $2,000 for each job created, and the debts are wiped off the books within five years as long as the anticipated wages, benefits and other promises are kept.

"The company has to perform," Parman said. "They have to create the jobs they promise to create."

Money to finance such programs can come from sales taxes or other government sources, she said.

Board members also will discuss issues revealed by the chamber's latest survey of existing businesses in the area. Concerns about the availability of affordable housing and new industrial space will be among discussion topics.

Monday's meeting will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the chamber, 734 Vt.

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