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By JoEllen Black/Richmond News
Ray County’s multi-year effort to established Enhanced Enterprise Zones to generate business and new jobs is in its “final stages,” according to Presiding Commissioner Bob King.
The county will have a public hearing to present the county’s enterprise zone program 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17 at Ray County Library’s community room as part of the designation process.
According to the state’s criteria, enterprise zones are an economic-development tool to generate new jobs, build clusters of related industries in certain geographical areas, assist expansion-minded businesses and help depressed local economies expand their tax bases.
Ray County partnered with Mid-America Regional Council to gather data and define the boundaries of eight zones in the county.
In those zones:
• at least 60 percent of residents have incomes less than 90 percent of the median state income or county income;
• the unemployment rate exceeds the average from the previous year for Missouri or Ray County.
Criteria were established by the state Legislature in Chapter 135 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, which governs tax relief.
Portions of the county didn’t qualify in the program, said Molly McGovern, Mid-America Regional Council small cities program manager, because income in those areas was higher than state guidelines. Those areas include Wood Heights and points south to Highway T, and north central and eastern Ray County, from Highway 13 east to Highway K south.
The cities of Henrietta, Orrick, Hardin and Richmond and its outlying areas are designated – and in the case of Richmond, portioned into five zones.