State bill aims to attract business

The state Senate passed a bill which some officials think will draw more businesses to Island County.

SB 5583 allows tax incentives for businesses that move to Island County and other rural counties.

“These are some additional tools Island County can use to attract additional businesses,” said Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, prime sponsor of the bill.

If it becomes law, the bill will provide business and occupation tax credits for software development business, help-desk services, new jobs and training. There is also an economic development public utility tax credit; and tax deferrals in manufacturing, research and development, and computer services.

According to the bill, a $1,000 tax credit is provided for each qualified, full-time position created.

“This opens up other avenues to make Island County more competitive,” said Sharon Hart, executive director of the Island District Development Council.

Hart added that the bill will level the playing field as the bill makes the county eligible to receive similar tax incentives that other surrounding rural counties have enjoyed.

Despite the rural character of the county, it didn’t qualify as a rural county because its population density was too high. The state definition of a rural county was based on a population density of fewer than 100 people per square mile.

The state recently changed its definition of a rural county to include counties that are less than 125-square-miles in size.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The 2003 legislative session is scheduled to end April 27.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@ or 675-6611.

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