Officials OK tax benefits for Centre business park lots

BELLEFONTE — Four unsold lots located within the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Park, one of which may become a manufacturing plant, will continue to see tax benefits for another seven years.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the Centre County Board of Commissioners approved extending the term of tax benefits for these lots, which are located in Keystone Opportunity and Opportunity Expansion zones (KOEZ), geographic areas that can provide state and local tax benefits in order to revive communities that are economically distressed through the elimination of taxes.

The extension period, which runs from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2024, extends the term of exemptions, deductions, abatements, and credits for real estate property, earned income tax, net profits of business, and business privilege taxes.

According to Stan LaFuria, executive director of the Moshannon Valley Economic Development Partnership (MVEDP), this is the sixth time the MVEDP has come before the county on behalf of the KOEZ program, which was started in 1998. The MVEDP works in partnership with the county, the Philipsburg Osceola Area School District and Rush Township, both of which have also approved the seven-year extension.

While the KOEZ offers tax forgiveness, LaFuria said there are many more tax dollars that are being paid down because of the program.

“It’s been a great program; it’s been very beneficial,” LaFuria said.

One benefactor of the KOEZ extension is Josh Helke of State College, who, with the help of the KOEZ program, will be able to build a new manufacturing plant on Lot #5 in the 14-lot business park. Helke is an entrepreneur in the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Center in the business park and owns a business called Organic Climbing, LaFuria said.

Another helpful tool for entrepreneurs has been the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, LaFuria said, which, through the end of the year, has lowered interest rates on its Pennsylvania Infrastructure Technology Alliance loan program. The program helps companies that want to build buildings and will also be helping Helke with his project.

“There’s a lot going on in Philipsburg, thanks in part to the MVEDP and the downtown improvement district,” said Commissioner Mark Higgins. “At this point, we have three business incubators in Philipsburg.”

Besides the Moshannon Valley Regional Business Center, which is currently full, there is the Philipsburg Incubator, which Higgins said is two-thirds full. There is also the 210,000-square-foot incubator in the area’s renovated cigar factory, which was a project of the MVEDP.