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July 14. 2013 9:21PM

Businesses invited to invest in Bedford’s future

BEDFORD — Bedford has designated five commercial and industrial areas as economic revitalization zones to encourage existing and potential businesses to invest in the town’s growth and, in turn, have the ability to apply for tax credits.

The program was created by the state’s Division of Economic Development to promote the use of and building on vacant or under-utilized properties. Qualifying businesses can apply for credits on their state business taxes, up to $200,000 over five years.

“There are no downsides in designating ERZs,” said Jessie Levine, Bedford town manager. “Designating these sites has no impact on other taxpayers. Unlike tax increment finance districts, all increased value from ensuing development will be captured town-wide, and there are no changes in planning and zoning procedures or requirements for the property owner.”

The five Economic Revitalization Zones are: the South River Performance Zone District from the Manchester town line to Merrimack; Route 114 Service Industrial Zone from the Old Bedford Road overpass to the Goffstown town line: the Route 101 East Commercial Zone District, including the Bedford Hills mixed-use development, Constitution Drive and the Bedford Village Inn; the Route 101 Central Commercial Zone District on both sides of Route 101 from Nashua Road to Wallace Road, and on the south side of Route 101 to Covenant Way; and the Route 101 West Commercial Zone on both sides of Route 101 surrounding Jenkins Road.

Bedford’s Economic Development Commission, which was given a one-year charge by the Town Council from 2008-09, recommended the program as an option to promote the town’s business-friendly environment.

According to the commission’s December 2009 report, the town should focus on business retention, the expansion of existing businesses, and attract new business to Bedford, while maintaining the town’s character and lifestyle. In addition, Bedford should participate in regional and state economic development boards and commissions, and develop a marketing plan.

The report indicated that Bedford is an ideal location to attract and retain businesses because of its easy access to major highways and two airports, and proximity to major cities and rural getaways; a quality school system; a diverse work force; and a small-town atmosphere with the benefits of city living. According to the report, the increase in total assessed value from 1998 to 2008 was about $85 million, mostly commercial development in retail, services, restaurants and banks along Route 3.

The designation of commercial areas that could benefit from tax credits is part of the Town Council’s economic development action in 2013.

Town Councilor Bill Jean, who has advocated for the program, said creating ERZ areas would provide an opportunity for Bedford to attract and retain businesses.

“It’s another arrow in our economic development quiver,” Jean said. “It is another vehicle through which we can encourage businesses to invest in Bedford.”

According to the state’s economic development website, nheconomy.com, ERZ credits are short-term against the business profits and enterprise taxes. To qualify, a certain amount of capital investment must be made and the project must expand the commercial and industrial tax base and create new jobs.

The town will be sending information to businesses that fall within the five ERZ boundaries. Interested businesses may also call the Division of Economic Development at 271-2341.

sclark@newstote.com


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