At least one township must agree to be part of the program to get it started.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City officials want to expand a program that could make the city and some surrounding townships more attractive for businesses to expand or relocate.
Council is expected to vote tonight on an extended enterprise zone plan that includes the city and parts of Neshannock, Taylor, Shenango, Union and North Beaver townships.
Enterprise zones are state designations, usually in economically distressed communities, that allow businesses to get low-interest loans, state tax credits and other benefits when they create or retain jobs through new buildings or upgrades to facilities and machinery.
Requirements: The companies must make a $45,000 minimum investment to qualify. The maximum loan amount is $250,000 and one job must be created for every $15,000 borrowed.
Portions of New Castle were designated an enterprise zone, but that ended July 31. In the last 12 years, New Castle's zone has lent out nearly $3 million to 17 companies. City records show that 431 jobs were created and 789 were retained.
The AT & amp;T Telecommunication Relay Center, New Castle Rolling Mills and D'Vron Ceramics are just a few of the companies to take part in the program.
The new proposed zone would be about double the size of New Castle's previous one, said John DiMuccio, city business administrator.
Other area needed: It will only be created if at least one other community, aside from the city, agrees to take part, he added. Only areas already zoned for industrial use will qualify to be part of the enterprise zone.
The city will continue to administer its zone program and the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation has agreed to administer it for any townships who participate, he said. Both will share in a $50,000 state grant to get the program off the ground.
Linda Nitch, LCEDC director, said a regionalized enterprise zone should make these communities more attractive to new businesses.
"This designation will provide another funding tool to assist in trying to market vacant, underutilized land," Nitch said.
The outlying townships should determine sometime this month if they will participate, Nitch noted.