Commissioners agreed to establish a board for an enterprise zone Tuesday as part of a plan to lure businesses into economically depressed parts of the city and to create jobs.
Tuesday’s approval on first reading creates an enterprise zone development agency whose nine board members would develop a strategic plan for economic recovery as part of the city’s application for an enterprise zone.
A public hearing and final vote on the enterprise zone board is set for March 5.
An enterprise zone would allow companies moving into economically depressed parts of the city to qualify for job-creation tax credits, sales-tax refunds on equipment purchases and corporate income tax breaks.
More than one-fourth of the city’s residents, 29.4 percent, live in poverty, according to U.S. Census Bureau data presented to the commission.
Obtaining an enterprise zone requires legislation that authorizes the city to apply to the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity for the designation. State Sen. Jeff Clemens and state Rep. Dave Kerner have sponsored enterprise zone bills for Lake Worth that will be considered during the spring legislative session.
Members of the enterprise zone development agency board would be appointed by the city commission and would include representatives from a chamber of commerce, a business owner, someone with finance or insurance background, a resident and representatives from law enforcement, code enforcement, a nonprofit organization and a local workforce organization.
The state requires the agency’s board members to reflect the gender and ethnic composition of the city.
Board members would serve four-year terms and would conduct annual reviews and updates of the strategic plan for economic development. The board would provide annual reports to the commission.
Commissioners would appoint the board’s chairman and vice chairman and could remove agency board members for neglect of duty following a hearing.
The strategic plan for economic recovery must be endorsed by the city’s Planning & Zoning Board and approved the the city commission.
The city’s economic development manager, Dolores Key, said she would like to submit the enterprise zone application submitted to the state by late summer or early fall.