Opponents of blight designation voice concerns

Mar 8, 2012

In Columbia, civic leaders and residents continue to voice concerns about plans to classify nearly half of the city as an "enhanced enterprise zone," designed to attract business.

Known as an EEZ, the state program offers tax incentives to businesses investing in economically depressed areas. Thirty Columbia citizens lined up in the city council chambers Tuesday night to ask questions about the Enhanced Enterprise Zone initiative that was proposed last month. Concerns focused around the use of old census data, eminent domain, and the program’s effect on property values.

Carole Shoemaker, coordinator of the Missouri Department of Development's EEZ program, told the crowd she'd like to see the whole state become an enhanced enterprise zone. 

"Kansas has the entire state of Kansas awarded as an Enhanced Enterprise Zone so they are able to offer the benefits of the program, and Missouri is just trying to play catch up."

Although there were a variety of concerns expressed by citizens, questions and confusion remained after the meeting.

Dean Andersen lives within the area of Columbia that would become an enhanced enterprise zone. 

"I do have concerns about whether or not this particular strategy is going to be effective at helping lift up areas of the blighted zone that need help."

The EEZ advising board is scheduled to meet March 9 at 10 a.m. The public hearing of the initiative is scheduled for mid-April.