HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville and Alabama leaders gathered at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, beginning a campaign to educate the public about an upcoming proposed amendment to the state's constitution.
It's called Amendment 11, otherwise known as the 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act.
"Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to permit cities and counties, notwithstanding any existing constitutional restrictions, to utilize tax increment district revenues collected within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone and other moneys to incentivize the establishment and improve various types of manufacturing facilities located or to be located in such Zone, and to validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, Act No. 2013-51. (Proposed by Act No. 2016-267)"
Wednesday's group of leaders wants people to vote "yes" for the sake of jobs, and economic development.
“This is about jobs, jobs, and more jobs,” said Mayor Battle. “Amendment 11 gives municipalities a powerful tool to recruit mega projects that provide quality jobs.”
The amendment would allow local governments an easier way to create special districts (tax increment finance districts) around areas slated for development. In these districts, the revenues created from industries moving in, will go back toward financing the roads, improvements, and other infrastructure there. Essentially, this creates a way for industry to pay for their own incentives and also bolster the communities they move into.
"This is not a tax," said Rep. Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) who sponsored the amendment in the AL House of Representatives. "This is not an incentive to give away to companies without a return on investment. This is merely a tool for local governments to use to be more competitive in bringing industry to their areas."
Leaders say it's all about job creation, and finding newer, better ways to secure those opportunities for people across Alabama, by beating out other competing states to win projects.
Huntsville has already used TIFs for years, including this one near the new Polaris site. This amendment would allow local governments to create TIFs without having to go to the Legislature for them.
"Approval of Amendment 11 is critical to providing local governments throughout Alabama with tool to facilitate the recruitment of large economic development projects to their area,” said Chip Cherry, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County. “Amendment 11 will allow the enhanced tax revenues from a project to fund the costs associated with bringing that business to the community. Local governments will have the option of letting large projects fund the incentives themselves rather than the community having to do so. Economic development is a very competitive arena and Amendment 11 will help level the playing field with surrounding states and place our communities in a stronger position to create new jobs for our citizens.”
Leaders say more than 80 sites have potential for new industry, and would be affected by the amendment.