Enterprise Zone Has Added 240 Jobs Since 2009

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Hermiston Utility Burden
A new report shows that Hermiston residents continue to pay lower total utility costs than residents of other Eastern Oregon cities.

Companies taking advantage of the Hermiston Enterprise Zone property tax abatement program have created nearly 240 full-time jobs between 2009 and 2012, according to the city of Hermiston.

The new jobs, which were created during that timeframe by Dupont-Pioneer Seed and Shearer’s Foods Inc., carry a total new payroll of nearly $6.6 million, according to Hermiston Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan.

New projects approved in 2013 are also set to generate at least another $1.3 million in new payroll, said Morgan.

“That’s new money that likely wouldn’t be flowing through the Hermiston economy without the tax incentive offered by the city of Hermiston, Umatilla County, and Business Oregon,” said Morgan, who also serves as zone manager for the Hermiston Enterprise Zone.

The Enterprise Zone is an incentive aimed at attracting new development to the area by offering tax abatement on new buildings, machinery and equipment for businesses like shippers, manufacturers, and processors which grow employment in the area. Pioneer Seed and Schearer’s Food Inc., the two companies currently using the incentive, have combined property values of $63.1 million.

“Investments of that size put a lot of consideration into ongoing costs associated with property taxes when deciding where to locate their operations,” said Morgan. “Hermiston’s Enterprise Zone helps make that decision easier by offering three- to five- year (tax) exemptions to qualifying businesses.”

Morgan said the Enterprise Zone has been vital in not only attracting new jobs to Hermiston, but high salary family-wage jobs. Companies which pay new workers more than 150 percent of the average annual wage in Umatilla County can qualify for the full five-year exemption. Since 2009, Dupont-Pioneer Seed has added 29.5 full-time equivalent jobs with an average annual compensation of $75,545, or more than 200 percent of the average annual wage for the county.

Dupont-Pioneer Seed was granted a second Hermiston Enterprise Zone exemption for its latest expansion project, which broke ground earlier this year. The company plans to bring on at least 25 new full-time jobs which pay more than $51,839 per year, said Morgan.