Storm’s final impact on area could be positive

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2006

Today, potential business owners and those who would like to expand their services will have a chance to see how newly available government funds can work for them.

Today, at 5:15 in the Demopolis Civic Center, representatives of Morgan Keegan&Company and Maynard Cooper&Gale PC will be on hand to explain how people can make the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act work for them.

Will Davenport, a representative of Morgan Keegan&Company, praised Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson for helping them get the meeting to e central location.

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“Mayor Williamson had a lot to do with putting this together, so kudos to her,” Davenport said. “She really helped us out a lot.”

The act, Davenport said, has already generated a lot of excitement. Today’s meeting, Davenport said, should add to that.

“We have had a lot of people calling in and asking if their businesses or projects qualified,” Davenport said. “We have really had a good response. Hopefully, this will spur interest further.”

On Dec. 21, President George W. Bush signed the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act into law, which established $2.1 billion in tax incentives and bond provisions to rebuild local and regional economies devastated by hurricanes.

The basis of the act is to allow private business owners and corporations an opportunity to borrow tax exempt money to cover the costs of acquiring, constructing and renovating nonresidential property located in the included areas.

The key benefits of this bond project is it interest on Gulf Opportunity Zone Bonds are exempt from federal and state of Alabama income taxes, therefore, the interest rate is lower than conventional financing.

Generally, any public or private company or corporation seeking to finance for these reasons qualify, however, there are certain restrictions.

Items not covered by the act include private or commercial golf courses, country clubs, massage parlors, hot tub facilities, suntan facilities, racetracks or other facilities used for gambling or any store where the principal purpose is the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption off premises.

Bond proceeds also can’t be used to finance movable fixtures and equipment.

The act hits home for much of the Black Belt as Greene, Hale, Marengo and Sumter are among the 11 counties included.

Other west Alabama counties covered are Tuscaloosa, Pickens, Clarke, Choctaw, Washington, Mobile and Baldwin.

The meeting is open to the public. For more information on the time and location of today’s meeting, call Demopolis City Hall at (334) 289-0577.