Enterprise zone brings new business to Rogue River

ROGUE RIVER — The city's new enterprise zone is attracting new businesses to town to reap three years of financial benefits.

Two companies are already on board — bringing new jobs and new construction to Rogue River's long-struggling business base, officials say.

Businesses that locate in enterprise zones have their property taxes frozen for three years, said Ron Fox, director of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. After three years they are again assessed at the regular tax rate.

"The short-term property tax incentive is designed to stimulate new investment and create new jobs," Fox said.

SOREDI oversees a similar economic zone in Josephine County.

Radio Design Group of Grants Pass will build a 23,300-square-foot business office and light manufacturing site for its high-tech radio control devices on several tax lots that make up a five-acre parcel on Rogue River Highway. Timber Mountain Construction of Rogue River will construct a 9,000-square-foot industrial building with helicopter hangar and landing pad on a 1.86-acre site on North River Road across from the local mill, said City Planner Laurel Prairie-Kuntz.

"We're excited about (the enterprise zone)," she said. "These are the types of small industrial businesses you would want, but don't necessarily want located in the downtown core."

The enterprise zone in Rogue River is part of a larger Jackson County enterprise zone that was approved by county officials and the local communities this past spring. The zone includes three separate areas that encompass about six square miles in parts of Rogue River and Butte Falls as well as the Tolo Road area near Central Point.

In Rogue River, the area within the enterprise zone is bordered on the west by Pine Street and extends to the south end of town along East Main Street. The zone also includes other land within the city limits on the south side of the Rogue River.

A neighbor's concern about noise from the proposed helicopter landing site prompted Rogue River planning commissioners to visit the new Timber Mountain. Owner Robbie Pearce requested a permit to operate and house his helicopter, which he uses travel to distant job sites.

"He flies it to Gold Beach," Prairie-Kuntz said. "He said it takes him about 12 minutes to get there."

Prairie-Kuntz said commissioners decided the nearby veneer mill and a passing truck created more noise than Pearce's 205-horsepower helicopter.

The commission has approved the chopper use, she said.

"I like the part that the helicopter is available for fire and police rescue efforts," said City Councilwoman Jo Anne Mead, the council's liaison to the Planning Commission.

Prairie-Kuntz said the Timber Mountain building will include five 1,440-square-foot business spaces for lease.

Prairie-Kuntz said Radio Design Group, an electrical design company, had been looking at property in Rogue River for some time, and the enterprise zone helped tip the scales. The company is known to offer "extremely high wages," she said.

The special zone also opens the way for the communities to seek economic development grants, said Fox.

"We're happy the zone is working out so well for Rogue River," said Fox. "We've had (enterprise zones) in Josephine County and inside the city of Medford for the past 10 years, but we haven't had them (in Jackson County) outside of Medford's urban growth boundary."

Fox said the Medford zone has attracted investments of $117 million in new buildings and equipment during the past nine years and created 1,300 new jobs. Almost 40 companies, including Boise and Sabroso, are involved in the zone.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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