Senate OKS Satchell bill revamping Arctic MED zone
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell to loosen participation requirements in West Warwick’s “Municipal Economic Development” (MED) zone to better encourage businesses to come to the Arctic neighborhood.
The bill (2015-S 0121A) would change the requirements of the previously designated MED zone that encompasses Arctic to allow participation by businesses that rehabilitate existing structures. Currently, most of the benefits in the MED zone program are available only to eligible businesses that construct new buildings. Since Arctic has little available space for new construction, the program has gone largely unused in the decade since the zone was established, Senator Satchell said.
Besides expanding the program to businesses that rehabilitate existing structures, Senator Satchell’s bill would also tweak the law to allow retail businesses and restaurants that open in the zones a competitive advantage: They could waive 50 percent of the state sales tax for their customers for their first 10 years.
Under the existing law, money from the sales tax that those businesses collect is supposed to be redirected from the state back to West Warwick for capital improvements in the MED zone. That provision would be left untouched by the bill, although the sales tax rate would be halved. Since no businesses have used the MED zone designation yet anyway, West Warwick would not be forfeiting any existing revenue through that change.
Senator Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) said the changes would make the MED zone requirements more realistic, and therefore more likely to be effective at enticing businesses to the neighborhood.
“What we need in Arctic are incentives that encourage companies to rehabilitate some of the empty buildings so they become a cost-effective, attractive option for them. These changes make the MED zone program more realistically usable while preserving historic structures and keeping our village feel. It’s a good deal for business and I hope that it will help our efforts to redevelop Arctic,” said Senator Satchell.
The bill will now advance to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) is sponsoring similar legislation (2015-H 6260).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903