COOS BAY — Since Pembina has taken over the Jordan Cove LNG project it is now up to the it community partners in the cities of Coos Bay and North Bend, Coos County, and the International Port of Coos Bay to reevaluate the terms of Jordan Cove Enterprise Zone.
The state of Oregon authorizes Enterprise zones to encourage economic development in an area. In order to develop an enterprise zone, and area seeking economic development must have a sponsor and apply with the state
The Jordan Cove Enterprise Zone has four local sponsors in Coos Bay, North Bend, Coos County, and the Port of Coos Bay. A long standing enterprise zone, the Jordan Cove Enterprise Zone was established many years ago when discussion of the project began in the early 2000s.
If a company can promise a certain amount of investment in an enterprise zone in the form of tax revenue and job creation then they qualify for a five year tax exemption. However, in Jordan Cove’s case it will make payments as part of its Community Enhancement Plan that to the sponsors to divide among themselves during its tax exemption period.
“Jordan Cove is willing to make community service payments as long as they’re not paying anymore then they would have to pay if they were paying property taxes,” Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said.
Some of the ways the four enterprise zone sponsors have discussed using the in-kind payments are things like a school foundation. Annual payments from the Community Enhancement Plan from Jordan Cove are estimated at $12 million for the five year tax exemption during construction.
“A plan that emerged years ago was that 50 percent would go to schools, and a 501c would be created, and it was…The thought was that they would invest half of the money they received into an endowment, and use the other half to fund capital improvements to the various school districts in the area,” Craddock said.
The other half of the Jordan Cove Community Enhancement payments were to be split equally between the Waterfront Development Partnership and local taxing districts. The idea being that half of this money would go toward developing education, and the other half toward developing infrastructure.
Any infrastructure work that would potentially be done in the tax districts would need to be approved by all four of the enterprise zone partners.
The community group with representatives from each of the four partners stopped meeting after the Jordan Cove Project was last disapproved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. After Pembina took over the project, the sponsors were asked to come together as a group once again to decide how community enhancement funds might be spent should the Jordan Cove Project be approved this time.
The current Enterprise Zone Agreement that the community work group has come up with now must be approved by each of the four sponsors. Currently, the Port of Coos Bay and the city of North Bend have approved the agreement. While Coos County the City of Coos Bay have decided to delay a vote on the agreement in order to better review it.
Likely this will lead to the agreement returning to the community work group so that changes can be made to it that fit the needs of all four enterprise zone partners.
If all sponsors do not decide to approve this agreement it will return to the Enterprise Zone Committee to be reworked. With the Community Enhancement Plan payments being such a large amount, the Enterprise Zone Committee created a community work group called the Community Enhancement Plan Workgroup. That group consists of two appointed representatives, as well as representatives from each of the sponsors.
“It’s not about whether or not these organizations support this project, it’s about what we do if it does come. How can we best benefit our community both immediately and for the future,” Craddock said.
The current plan which is yet to be approved would still allocate 50 percent of funds collected to the South Coast Community Foundation, which is money that would go toward schools in the area. Another 25 percent would be given to the waterfront, the remaining 25 percent is split between county government, the Port of Coos Bay, the Library Service District and the Southwestern Oregon Community College among others.