Tax credit zones to end, less jobs for unemployed

Imperial Valley

Tax credit zones to end, less jobs for unemployed

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BRAWLEY, Calif. (13 On Your Side) - California governor Jerry Brown has cut a program designed to bring jobs to the Imperial Valley.

The enterprise zone program - with zones in Brawley and Calexico - offer tax credits to business in order to hire unemployed residents. 

Imperial County has the highest unemployment rate in the state of California - at almost 23%. 

Elisa Rodriguez has been out of work for three years now. 

The Calipatria resident says she'll do whatever job it takes to support her daughter.

"I'll make money putting eyelashes on people, anything to support ourselves."

But for hundreds of other people, just like Elisa, finding a job just got harder. 

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation on Thursday that'll soon cut funding for the state's enterprise zone program. 

In Calexico and Brawley, the enterprise zone includes 100 businesses. 

The state partners with these companies by giving them tax incentives in exchange for hiring unskilled workers including ex-convicts. 

Enterprise zone manager, Daniel Fitzgerald, says ending the enterprise zone could keep more people from getting jobs. 

"The main thing that the enterprise zones has been for is to give credit for is to give credits for businesses who are employing the hardest to hire . This may be somebody who's coming off public assistance, like CalWorks. This may be somebody who's been unemployed for a long period of time. Someone who's maybe an ex-offender, someone who is a veteran, a disabled individual, or somebody who's economically disadvantaged or basically on that borderline of poverty."

According to Fitzgerald, within the past five years the enterprise zone program has helped more than 3,000 residents get a job. 

Fitzgerald says - ending the tax incentive program will keep businesses from expanding - which means fewer jobs to the area.

"It will create an additional tax burden on businesses and will affect some businesses in their decision making. Maybe they wont hire someone additionally, maybe they won't expand here. Maybe a company that's already looking to come here to the Imperial Valley - won't come."

As for Elisa? She'll continue looking for a job. 

But says - finding full-time work in an area where the unemployment rate is already high means she could be unemployed for a lot longer than expected. 

"It would be a big effect because I've only had one work experience and it would be hard to find another job. It would put me on another list and wait longer to get a job."

Starting next year, in January, the tax breaks will no longer go to help economically developing zones but instead will go to pharmaceutical companies in San Diego. 

Imperial County - and cities within the county - will have to figure out a way to make up for the shortfall. 

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