One of my top priorities is to ensure that our community is provided with the tools to boost the local economy. Small businesses employ more than 70 percent of our workforce and as a legislator, I want to both create and retain jobs in District 75.
I was recently asked what bills from this past session will help accomplish that goal. I wanted to take the time to summarize four pieces of legislation that will do just that.
The first piece of legislation promotes private sector job creation in a number of ways. First, it allows local government to create flexible abatement schedules that reward companies of all sizes with the ability to qualify for a property tax abatement. The length of the abatement must be based on scoring from four factors: the size of the investment, the number of jobs, the pay rate of those jobs and the reuse of existing infrastructure. The abatement can be for up to 10 years.
The second component of this bill allows designating a downtown area as a rehabilitation zone, and would allow for a100 percent abatement for up to three years for companies that reuse existing 50,000 square foot building and a business investment of $10 million.
It also allows local government to set up hiring incentives for new or existing companies by rebating local option income taxes for new jobs created.
The last component of this bill extends the expiration date to 2017 for the enterprise information technology property tax exemption. This will allow Indiana to be competitive in attracting the large data storage companies that have been a growing business sector.
Another jobs bill that passed this session makes adjustments to the industrial recovery tax credit. This tax credit is designed to encourage businesses to purchase large, old vacant industrial facilities. Currently the tax credit applies to vacant facilities that have been in service for 20 years and vacant for at least two years and have 250,000 square feet of vacant floor space or more. The passed legislation reduces these requirements to vacant facilities that have been in service for at least 15 years and vacant for one year and it also lowers the minimum square footage of vacant space.
This legislation increases the number of buildings that are eligible for the tax credit and therefore can bring about more extensive rehabilitation and job creation to our Hoosier communities that have been hit by the economic recession and have seen many companies close or leave town.
A third bill creates an online one-stop-shop for our Hoosier entrepreneurs to visit in taking care of the necessary permits and registration required when filing their new or existing business with the state. This reduces the red tape involved in the process and makes it much easier for our bright entrepreneurs and existing businesses to launch and support their new businesses.
That same bill also has the Indiana Department of Education, in conjunction with the Commission for Higher Education (CHE) and Indiana Economic Development Corporation; develop a curriculum guide based on best entrepreneurship practices for entrepreneurship programs in high schools. It also has the CHE perform an inventory of entrepreneurship programs offered at Indiana colleges and universities and put the list of programs up on their website.
Not only does this bill help Hoosier entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground, it also helps train aspiring entrepreneurs of tomorrow here in our great state.
Finally, we also passed legislation that enhances the Venture Capital Investment (VCI) Tax Credit by extending both the duration of the program as well as the amount of credit and waiving the tax credit application fee for two years. The VCI Tax Credit basically increases access to capital for fast-growing Indiana businesses by providing investors incentive to invest in early stage firms. By expanding the tax credit we are allowing our Hoosier businesses more opportunities to grow and expand and add more jobs to their business.
All of this legislation represents our efforts to make Indiana the best state for private sector job growth through both statewide and local initiatives. They benefit all types of businesses, both large corporations and local businesses, as well as young entrepreneurs. Through these initiatives we are promoting job creation and investments in our local communities across the state.
I am pleased to have been a part of these meaningful pieces of legislation. We have put Indiana on a great track for job and economic growth.
Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler)