Gary Miller


By Neil Nisperos, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 11/24/13, 8:49 PM PST |

Rep. Gary Miller, R-Rancho Cucamonga, has introduced a bill that would enable economically challenged areas in the Inland Empire to qualify for “empowerment zones,” similar to the state’s enterprise zones, which are being phased out by the end of the year.

The proposed federal program aims to provide tax credits, loan opportunities and other incentives for businesses to locate in an empowerment zone.

Under the bill, areas would be eligible for an empowerment zone, or EZ, designation if the average unemployment rate and the average rate of residential and commercial foreclosures in that area are each higher than the state’s rates for the period of 2009 to the date of the law’s enactment.

The legislation, for instance, would provide an annual tax credit to an employer of up to $3,000 for employees who live and work in an empowerment zone. Another provision provides a tax credit of up to $2,400 for each new employee aged 18 to 39 who lives in the EZ.

The bill, which was introduced Tuesday, also aims to extend the EZ program for three years — until the end of 2016 — and would expand the number of zones by 20, up from 30, already existing in California.

Empowerment zones were first introduced in the 1986 Internal Revenue Code. Santa Ana, the city of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County are currently empowerment zones. The last round of empowerment zones was authorized in 2001.

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