March 25, 2021
The Oregonian’s March 18th article on the expansion of Facebook’s Prineville data center campus deserves response. The article misrepresented property tax incentives and their use as a primary tool for economic development.
The article claims incentives provided in Prineville and elsewhere “allow communities to give unlimited property tax exemptions to large capital projects, regardless of how many people […] they employ.”
This claim references Oregon’s longstanding program allowing cities, counties, ports, and tribal governments a local choice to temporarily exempt certain types of capital investments from tax rolls in exchange for new jobs. Enterprise Zones produce results both in terms of new employment and critical tax base particularly for Oregon communities struggling with lower incomes, population decline, and high unemployment.
The Enterprise Zone program is subject to state statute and administrative rules that prescribe what companies must accomplish to be eligible. These regulations say when and how temporary exemptions may be granted, associated job creation requirements, even repayment of exempted property tax should a business not perform and therefore be disqualified.
Truthfully, Oregon’s economic development toolbox is slim compared to other states. The economic development professionals OEDA represents move mountains to leverage every tool possible to grow and retain jobs and equitable opportunity. They now face the arduous work of economic recovery. At this remarkable time for Oregon, misleading coverage of a key vehicle for economic recovery is a stick in the wheel for those that do this work every day.
Oregon Economic Development Association