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    Indiana County Commissioners Approve KOEZ Extension

    9/27/2019
    An offer of tax breaks as incentives for new and expanding businesses at a White Township industrial park received two of three necessary local approvals Wednesday September 25.

    The Indiana County board of commissioners and the White Township board of supervisors agreed to a 10-year extension of the Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone tax break for vacant parcels still covering 138.37 acres of the Windy Ridge Business and Technology Park.

    “These are tools that we as economic developers seek when they’re available for specific sites that we feel could use the benefit of those programs,” said Byron Stauffer Jr., executive director of the Indiana County Office of Planning & Development. “We have limited opportunities with the KOEZ program, and so it does hopefully create some jobs and capital investment for the future.”

    The KOEZ designation for Windy Ridge also requires approval of the Indiana Area School District board of directors. Stauffer said that request would be presented soon.

    With local leaders’ authorization, the planning office would apply for approval of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

    Stauffer said the application before the boards Wednesday is the second effort to win an extension of the KOEZ designation now due to sunset on Dec. 31. DCED rejected a similar application filed one year ago.

    “The ordinance would extend the KOEZ period … through Dec. 31, 2029; it would abate local real estate taxes, but it’s also a partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in that state income tax, sales tax and other state taxes may also be abated,” Stauffer told the commissioners. “It’s not 100 percent necessarily, because other taxes workers comp are certainly paid by the businesses.”

    Stauffer told the township officials that there has been “great success with it over the course of the last couple decades,” with the Corporate Campus Business Park in Burrell Township and the 40-acre Commerce Park along Kolter Drive between the Rose Street Extension and Rustic Lodge Road in White Township.

    The application for Windy Ridge excludes land now occupied by Creps United Publications and URBN. Both properties would return to taxation on Jan. 1.

    Concern about timing because of an Oct. 1 deadline for applications to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development prompted supervisors to consider a special meeting next week to pass the ordinance, but Manager Milt Lady said the township was able to place an ad in time for consideration Wednesday night.

    The county commissioners in two steps approved an ordinance to exclude the vacant Windy Ridge land from taxation and a resolution authorizing the planning office to request DCED approval of the application.
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