By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
A state program that Sioux City leaders say has injected millions of dollars into the local economy is set to expire in six months.
"Significant investment has occurred, and job creation has occurred, and job retention because of targeted jobs," said Economic Development Director Marty Dougherty.
The most dramatic example is Sabre Industries. The light pole manufacturer will employ more than 500 people and build a brand new facility. It's a $28 million investment.
Jobs Sioux City says would have gone out of state without Targeted Jobs.
"It was just a better overall package. With the work of the city council and the state of Iowa, we are able to remain in Siouxland," said Darwin Gamm, the Director of Special Projects for Sabre.
In Sioux City, nearly 1,500 jobs are expected to be created. Their investment will total $97-million. The main goal of the program is to keep Iowa businesses from going over the border, but it's also attracted new ones.
"Without this tax credit and the help that the city gave us, we, no way, could we have expanded the business," said Stabler Meats Co-owner Jim Staber.
"It's a big help. It's a huge help. Clearly, there are some tax incentives to go across the river," Skip Perley, the Tec-Corp CEO said.
Businesses have to create ten jobs or make a capital investment of $500,000 In return, they get a tax break. Over ten years, the 32-projects that have been accepted will receive a total of $21-million in tax credits. Critics say the state is losing out on new tax revenue.
"The reality is other states are offering incentives to these companies and if they're not in Iowa or they leave the state, or if they never come here in the first place, the state's not going to get a dime in taxes out of that," Dougherty pointed out.
From machines to medicine, city leaders say the program's improved the health of the local economy.
"Some of those are pretty important projects," added Dougherty.
It's also at the top of their priorities when they lobby lawmakers, because the program expires next summer.
"I think what's great about forums like today is that they give you the ammunition that you need to take across the state," Republican State Senator Rick Bertrand said.
Lawmakers on both sides of the state have to convince those in the middle that the program is a win-win for everyone.
"We also have to make sure that they understand that creating jobs in Sioux City also creates benefits for the state," said Democratic House Member Chris Hall.
"I think they understand how hard it is for us to retain jobs and attract people to this area, so we need another tool," added Republican Representative Ron Jorgenson.
Hall says there will be some procedural changes to the program if it is extended, mainly dealing with how it is administered.
According to the State Economic Development Department, state-wide the businesses involved in the program have a $16.5 billion dollar payroll. They will receive $40-million in tax breaks over the next decade.
There are five Iowa cities involved in this pilot program, 70% of the projects are located in Sioux City.
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