County JOBZ application submitted

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Freeborn County officials are one step closer to obtaining the ability to offer tax incentives to businesses in their communities through Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Job Opportunity Building Zones Program.

Collectively, officials from Freeborn and other counties have recently submitted an application to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) which finalizes their participation until decisions are made.

If approved, qualified businesses within the Job Opportunity Building Zones (JOBZ) would be afforded tax breaks for up to 12 years. To meet basic eligibility requirements, businesses must be new to the community, have recently relocated or are expanding.

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According to DEED Community Development Director Louie Jambois, the incentive can be offered to companies that are currently under expansion or relocating, but, if they qualify, the benefits will not begin until Jan. 1. Pro-rating will not be done for changes made before the new year.

Communities apply within one of 10 regions. Freeborn County’s application is named the Positively Southern Minnesota JOBZ Growth Corridor. Applying with Freeborn County are Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Fillmore, Houston, Jackson, Martin, Mower, Waseca and Watonwan counties.

Nine other regions submitted applications which, according to the Kit Borgman, communication director at DEED, were as many as 1,300 pages long.

Jambois said that analysis of the applications will focus on socio-economic and success indicators. Examples of socio-economic factors include the poverty rate and the status of infrastructure within the zones.

A success indicator is whether or not the applicant has a creative and innovative development plan.

DEED will approve up to ten applications, which means that every applicant has the potential to be approved. However, according to Borgman, slight modifications might need to be done if applications are incomplete, or if problems are found with some of the said factors. Approval of all 10 zones is not guaranteed.

According to Greater Jobs Vice President Pam Bishop, representatives from Freeborn County’s region are meeting to devise a marketing plan in case their application is approved.

But she said that it will be up to Freeborn County officials to utilize the plan effectively. A worksheet is also being created, which would explain the tax incentive to potential businesses.

Jambois said that the applications total about 10,000 pages. &uot;We are a long, long way&uot; from being finished, he said. But based on parts of applications that he and his colleagues have read, he was able to say, &uot;They are great. (The applicants) have provided the information we asked them for.&uot;

Bishop said that Albert Lea area officials &uot;are eagerly awaiting the state’s decision, so that we can utilize&uot; the benefits.

Decisions will be made by DEED by Dec. 31.

(Contact Benjamin Dipman at or 379-3439.)