The Columbia City Council approved a measure Monday creating a board that reviews the economic potential of underdeveloped city neighborhoods.
In a unanimous decision, Council members said the move would spur job creation and help bring new business into Columbia.
Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid was not without his reservations, however.
“It’s a decision the community has to make and I can understand people who say ‘let’s not play that game.’ But I can also understand other people who say ‘you got to play that game.’ We got to find economic opportunity for those people, the 48 percent of Columbians who don’t have college degrees,” McDavid said.
Opponents to the measure—which forces the Enhanced Enterprise Zone, or EEZ, board to decree “blighted” neighborhoods—argue it does not recognize the economic potential of underdeveloped areas. One citizen warned of an oncoming “sales tax bonanza.”
Enhanced Enterprise zones have been an issue since 2011, when the board of Regional Economic Development Incorporated—on which McDavid serves—proposed the measure to bring manufacturing jobs to Columbia.