D.C. Outlook: New hope for Louisiana

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 19, 2002


Sadly, some Louisiana communities have been experiencing a debilitating economic downturn as jobs become more scarce and businesses and families relocate. Working to improve Louisiana’s economic stability is a crucial first step to improve the quality of life for the nearly five million people that call our state home.

This year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development selected 28 parishes as Renewal Community sites, making them eligible to share in $17 billion in tax incentives and other programs promoting economic revitalization – including the creation of affordable housing.

The HUD program funds 40 economically-deprived areas throughout the United States. As selected areas, the programs associated with the Louisiana Renewal Communities will benefit 14 parishes in northern Louisiana (Claiborne, Union, Morehouse, Winn, Lincoln, West Carroll, Bienville, Jackson, Richland, Red River, De Soto, Calwell, Franklin and Webster parishes); two in the New Orleans area (Orleans and Jefferson parishes); Ouachita Parish; and 11 parishes in central Louisiana (La Salle, Tensas, Natchitoches, Sabine, Grant, Catahoula, Vernon, Rapides, Concordia, Beauregard and Avoyelles parishes).

The Louisiana Renewal Communities will provide incentives to revitalize the local economy including:

• A $1,500 tax credit for every new employee hired by businesses within the Renewal Community;

• A federal work opportunity credit up to $2,400 for businesses in Renewal Communities with high unemployment rates or other special employment needs; and

• Welfare-to-work credits offering businesses a tax credit for each newly-hired, long-term welfare recipients.

In addition to tax credit incentives, businesses within the Louisiana Renewal Communities will be eligible for tax deductions and capital gains exclusions for environmental cleanup costs associated with improving brownfields. Educational assistance programs will also be established to raise awareness about the Renewal Community opportunities.

The Louisiana Renewal Communities will also be eligible to take advantage of the low-income housing credit, which provides a tax credit against federal taxes for owners of newly-constructed or newly-renovated rental housing for low-income families trying to make a new start.

Many residents within the parishes with a Louisiana Renewal Community live in poverty and cannot afford basic necessities for their families. By promoting programs that support job training and growth, affordable housing and crime reduction, these Louisiana communities can begin to attract new businesses which will in turn create new jobs, safer streets, and more opportunities for families to provide better lives for themselves and their children.

JOHN BREAUX represents Louisiana in the United States Senate.