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Potentially Very Good News. I'd heard this was in the works, and I am glad that they were able to pull this off. Will it be effective? Not sure. But it's a start. And it puts Alexandria in the same league for developers and investors as other Louisiana cities, though GoZone incentives are still way better. From today's TT: Designation aims to spur downtown development in Alexandria By Jim Leggett A new designation for at least part of downtown Alexandria should encourage private investment through federal-wage credits and tax deductions, said Heather Urbena, executive director of the Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District. The expansion of the Central Louisiana Renewal Community, approved by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alfonso Jackson, was announced Thursday by Gov. Kathleen Blanco. "It will help the city's effort to revitalize Alexandria," Urbena said. "It gives authority for business to make investments and encourages job creation. There is a lot of property that can be revitalized downtown." Louisiana has four renewal districts, one of which is the Central Louisiana Renewal District, which includes Avoyelles, Beauregard, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, LaSalle, Natchitoches, Rapides, Sabine, Tensas and Vernon parishes. The expansion was into downtown Alexandria. Last year, Blanco said, HUD allowed renewal districts to increase their population to 200,000, thus allowing the inclusion of downtown Alexandria. The renewal district must meet certain poverty percentages. Urbena said most tax breaks come at tax time, and the best way to determine what breaks are available is to talk to an accountant. Some of the tax incentives, as listed by the governor in her announcement, include: Wage credits. Renewal Community Employment Credit, which is a "credit against federal taxes of up to $1,500 during each year of renewal community designation for all existing employees and every new hire living in the renewal community." Work Opportunity Tax Credit, a "credit of up to $2,400 against federal taxes for businesses for each new hire from groups that have high unemployment rates or other special employment needs, including youth ages 18 to 24 and summer hires ages 16 to 17 who live in a renewal community." Deductions may be increased if a business qualifies as a renewal community business. A Section 179 deduction may be as much as $35,000 and can be claimed on certain depreciable property such as equipment and machinery. A commercial revitalization deduction may include a deduction of either one-half of qualified revitalization expenditures in the first year a building is placed into service or prorated over 10 years. A holder for a minimum of five years of a renewal community asset acquired between Jan. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2009, will not have to include in its gross income any qualified capital gains from the sale or exchange of the asset. For more information, read Internal Revenue Service Publication 954 or go online at www.renewalla.com. Originally published May 12, 2006