Gulf Coast Business Leaders Lobby For Lost Go Zone Incentive

It's called a Bonus Depreciation, but what it represents is real money commercial developers got from the Go Zone Act to redevelop the areas hardest hit by Katrina. Money that disappeared at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2007.

"Projects that weren't out of the ground by the end of 2007 would not qualify, as a general rule, for the bonus depreciation," says Gulfport Attorney John Harral.

And that, says the Go Zone advocate, is stifling progress.

"It's a very big deal," says Harral. "As I said, many clients that we've talked to simply will not be able to go forward with their significant projects here on the coast without this problem being fixed."

Congress amended the Go Zone act in 2006 to extend the date projects must be completed. Gulfport Business Club President Clay Williams says his group is one of several business groups in the city asking lawmakers to amend the act again.

"We're just asking our congressional delegation in Washington for a little more time to be granted for the five counties that are in the Go Zone qualifying jurisdiction in South Mississippi to be eligible for the Bonus Depreciation under the Go Zone," says Williams.

Thankfully, says Harral, Gulf Coast lawmakers are already well aware of the problem and taking action.

"I know Gene Taylor has introduced a bill that would fix this problem, and I think all of our congressional delegation and Louisiana's delegation are supporting that bill."

But he says it's in everyone's interest to let lawmakers know how bad 2008 has been for business.

"We need this problem fixed," says Harral.

Business leaders blame the slow start-ups in commercial development on the higher costs associated with material, labor, insurance and land, as well as new flood elevation requirements from FEMA.