Woodburn City Council has voted to approve a joint enterprise zone with the city of Gervais, and we at the Independent think this is a step in the right direction for progress in the area’s business community.

Enterprise zones give tax breaks to small business owners to encourage expansion. Just about everyone in North Marion County is taking advantage:?Hubbard, Aurora and Donald have combined for a joint enterprise zone and Mount Angel has joined Silverton’s. It seems only fitting that Woodburn’s already-existing enterprise zone should incorporate its nearest neighbor to the south, Gervais.

Gervais doesn’t have a ton of commerce, yet there are local businesses that could benefit from this enterprise zone expansion. Fiber-Fab, for instance, is a growing company, and it’s possible they might look to expand outside the immediate region if they find they can’t expand here. If they can take advantage of opportunities offered through the enterprise zone, not only with the company benefit, but so will workers.

We should encourage commerce in our area. Many Woodburn area residents commute to Salem or Portland daily for work, and many in the Woodburn area’s business community commute into Woodburn from elsewhere. This is a great opportunity to encourage residents to look no further than down the road for job opportunities.

We are also pleased with the enthusiasm the city has for expanding this project. Jim Hendryx, economic services director for the city of Woodburn, is ready to hit the ground running with training interested businesses and expanding into something that could benefit more companies.

The downside is that it could potentially take Woodburn staff time and money outside the city, but it’s minimal and, once the training is instated, then that hands-on aspect will lessen.

The unfortunate thing is that since 2010, when Woodburn started its enterprise zone, only one Woodburn business has taken advantage of the enterprise zone. Hopefully, this will encourage more businesses to take part in a great program that will promote commerce and help the Woodburn and Gervais area to be a great place to live and work.

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