Lots of targets for business tax breaks
Apparently, in legislators’ minds, when it comes to “economic target areas,” you just can’t have enough of a good thing.
Adopted in the wake of the recession of the late 1980s and early ’90s, the economic target area designation was aimed at offering state and local tax breaks for businesses that invest in economically distressed areas. The law limited the number of target areas to a total of 20 statewide, but put no limit on their size as long as they were made up of contiguous Census Bureau tracts and met one of 10 criteria of economic need.As a result, at least some part of 201 Massachusetts cities and towns now falls within an economic target area. These include not only Lawrence and Lowell, but lots of places not usually associated with blight and decay, including Beverly, Hingham, Essex, and Manchester-by-the-Sea.
“There’s no question that the original intent—to target the most needy communities—has been lost,” says David Tibbetts, who served as director of the Department of Economic Affairs in the late 1990s. “It’s also a credit to the program that people say, ‘It’s been so successful, I want in, too.’”