Columbia residents rally against EEZ plans

Jun 19, 2012

In what continues to be one of the most divisive issues in Columbia, a proposed Enhanced Enterprise Zone was the topic of more public discussion and a rally at last night’s Columbia City Council meeting. 

Columbia residents rallied last night to express frustrations over the Enhanced Enterprise Zone and what they believe to be a nonresponsive municipal government.

Columbia residents have publicly voiced their opposition to the measure that is designed to bring jobs to Columbia through a series of tax credits for businesses that set up within the zone’s boundaries.

In order to qualify for the credits, businesses must hire at least two new employees.

Monta Welch, founder of Columbia Climate Change Coalition, doesn’t believe an enhanced enterprise zone will solve Columbia’s unemployment problem:  “It’s almost laughable to say you only have to create two jobs when they try to promote it as some solution to our jobs problem.”

Mitch Richards, treasurer of Keep Columbia Free, the political action committee that organized the rally, hopes the city council will reconsider current efforts to establish an EEZ in Columbia and disband the EEZ board.

In the event an enhanced enterprise zone is established, Richards says there are plans for continued action by residents:  “From there, we get the ballot language for a citizen initiate and we rescind it ourselves by collecting the necessary signatures and putting it on the ballot, probably for November.”

There are plans to begin collecting the signatures, although collections will only begin if and when an EEZ is established, according to Richards.