The Columbia City Council voted Monday to shut down the Enhanced Enterprise Zone advisory board. The vote effectively eliminates the effort to establish an economically incentivized zone for businesses in the city.
Initially, the board was charged to establish areas within the city limits where businesses would receive tax incentives as encouragement to open up shop. But, many citizens expressed concern about the requirement that the zone area be first deemed quote “blight” by the city. And just last month, the Regional Economic Development Inc board unanimously voted to send the council an official recommendation to drop the effort.
Mayor Bob McDavid acknowledged the loud volume of citizen voices opposing the program, known as EEZ, as a strong motivator to throw in the towel.
“It made it very clear that the community consensus in this town was against using the state defined EEZ legislation. I respect that. Each of us respects that," McDavid said.
McDavid also stressed the continued importance of retaining businesses that blossom from the local universities as well as attracting those from outside the city, state or country.
“We have to find opportunity for our people with GEDs, with criminal records, felony convictions. They need jobs, too. So we’re going to work at the whole end of the spectrum and we’ll ask for your help as we move forward," McDavid said.
In other news from the meeting, the council voted to postpone a decision on establishing a temporary abeyance of demolition permits in the downtown community for two weeks. This came after representatives associated with the Neidermeyer apartment building downtown sent letters to the city threatening legal action. Council members said they wanted more time to talk with neighborhood associations about the impact of the looming demolition of the Neidermeyer building.