What is the Columbia Empowerment Zone?

5:39 PM, Jan 25, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX)- The Columbia/Sumter Empowerment Zone was created over 10 years ago and all of the members on the board are appointed by the board.

It is described as a government body that works in urban and rural development.

The cities of Columbia and Sumter applied to be designated an empowerment zone by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. On December 31, 2011 all of the empowerment zones expired.

As of 2010 the Columbia Empowerment Zone formed a non-profit to transfer grant funds and to continue their plan for city development.

News19 has been asking for several days and has not been able to get a list of the current board members or speak with anyone on the empowerment board.

In April of 2012, Councilwoman, Leona Plaugh, was the only council member who voted against allocating up to 35 thousand dollars to align empowerment zone staff with the city's office of business opportunities.

Ms. Plaugh released this statement to News19: "I voted against this motion because I objected to the allocation of water and sewer funds for this purpose and stated that a more practical approach would be to transfer the assets of CEZ to the city's existing development corporations and phase out CEZ, Inc. since the Federal Grant Program ended."

The Empowerment Zone's property in the 3700 block of North Main Street will be discussed at Tuesday's city council meeting which will be at Hyatt Park, 950 Jackson Ave.

Council will enter into Executive Session at 5 p.m. and convene the work session at 6:30 p.m.

According to the agenda the work session will consist of:

- Overview of North Main Plaza History- Ms. Teresa Wilson, City Manager

-Proposed Residential Development- Mr. Will McCauley and Mr. Taylor Davis, Creative Builders and N&H Enterprises, Inc.

-Q&A on Potential Development & Related Matters- City Staff & Developers

-Public Comment- Eau Claire Community Council, North Columbia Business Association and Columbia Empowerment Zone, Inc.

-City Council Discussion/ Action



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