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City Council Shows Support for Business Growth


The city of Bend is showing it is dead-serious about supporting businesses who want to expand their operations in Bend. At their November 1 meeting, the city councilors approved the expansion of Bend’s so-called Enterprise Zone. Bend already has an Enterprise Zone that covers the city’s industrial and light manufacturing areas. Established in 2010 by the city, the zone is administered by Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO).

Additional requirements are needed if a business applies for the full five-year tax break, rules that mainly deals with employee compensation.

A tool to incentivize businesses to set up shop and expand their current operations in Bend, the zone offers up to a five-year tax break if business fulfill a set of goals established by the city. To qualify for a tax break, a business needs to agree to and meet the following conditions:

  • Increase full-time, permanent employment of the firm inside the enterprise zone by the greater of one new job or 10%
  • Meet the definition of a traded-sector business
  • Be located in the Enterprise Zone
  • Enter into a first-source hiring agreement with local job training providers
  • Maintain minimum employment levels during the exemption period while generally avoiding offsetting job losses in Oregon outside the Enterprise Zone boundary

Additional requirements are needed if a business applies for the full five-year tax break, rules that mainly deals with employee compensation. Average pay for new employees associated with the expansion must exceed 150% of annual average wage in Deschutes County. In 2016, the annual average wage was $41,962, which would equal $62,000 in wages.

In a letter to the council supporting the expansion of the enterprise zone, the Chair of Bend Economic Development Advisory Board (BEDAB) highlighted the establishment of the current zone has seen over 40 companies receiving support from the city. In all, companies have invested approximately $149 million in facilities and increased employment in Bend by 584 employees.

City of Bend Economic Development Director, Carolyn Eagan, told the councilors the tax breaks credited to the businesses last year amounted to approximately $77,000.

Also supporting the expansion of the zone was the Vice President of Finance, Kenneth Betschart of Grace Bio-Labs. The company was approved by city council for a five-year tax abatement earlier this year. In his letter, Betschart noted, “While no business decision is ever based on a single factor, the tax abatement we received this past year was an important business consideration as we weighed possible expansion locations.” He also mentioned the tax break showed the city of Bend is “an active partner in our success.”

Not without controversy, Councilor Moseley indicated he would not support the resolution of an expanded Enterprise Zone.

“I still harbor hesitation,” said Moseley and noted, “The marginal tax rate change is not driving job creation. I’m not for giving money to rich people.”

“I still harbor hesitation,” said Moseley and noted, “The marginal tax rate change is not driving job creation. I’m not for giving money to rich people.”

Councilor Campbell, another business owner on city council, mentioned she was struck by how many local businesses are benefitting from the establishment of the current Enterprise Zone.

“This abatement has a minimal impact on [the city’s] bottom line, but brings good paying jobs [to Bend].”

Councilor Russell mentioned there are not many ways Bend can support the business community. With the expansion of the Enterprise Zone, “We tell business who try to grow that we support them.”

The expansion of the zone was approved six to one, with Councilor Moseley opposing.

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