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  November 3rd, 2014 | Written by

Business Environment

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Amarillo, Texas

Population: 190,695
Unemployment: 4.10%
Sales Tax: 8.25%
One of the most taxing things about running a business is, well, taxes. Amarillo not only benefits from no state property tax but its Freeport designation allows exemption from inventory property taxes of goods exported from there. There are also new market tax credits which provide incentives to investors for equity investments and a job creation incentive grant to incentivize full-time employee job creation.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Population: 229,493
Unemployment: 5.90%
Sales Tax: 9.0%
We’re not the first publication to recognize Baton Rouge for doing things right. Entrepreneur tabbed it as one of its five “Emerging Entrepreneurial Hubs,” Site Selection has twice recognized it as the best place for new and expanded corporate facilities, and Southern Business & Development called Baton Rouge the best mid-size city for business growth. Local innovation incubators and infrastructure projects have attracted the likes of IBM, which established a first-of-its-kind software development center downtown.

Decatur, Illinois

Population: 76,122
Unemployment: 9.50%
Sales Tax: 9.0%
The greatest incentive and improvement to the local business environment is the opening of the Midwest Inland Port, providing local companies the ability to ship inbound and outbound raw materials and products anywhere in the U.S. and internationally. The port was recognized as one of Illinois’ top economic developments and had a lot to do with Decatur being ranked third by Business Facilities magazine as an “Emerging Logistics and Distribution Center.”

Devens, Massachusetts

Population: 1,840
Unemployment: 4.90%
Sales Tax: 6.25%
A town literally built around business, the former Fort Devens was purchased by MassDevelopment in 1997 to develop into a residential/business community. MassDevelopment has been aggressive as an economic stimulator and/or problem solver; consider Quiet Logistics, which needed financing to meet growing demand. MassDevelopment provided $2.5 million in financing to manage the expansion of the company’s distribution center. Quiet Logistics now ships anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 units daily to customers in 130 countries.

Elk Grove, Illinois

Population: 33,127
Unemployment: 5.40%
Sales Tax: 9.0%
Elk Grove, which actually has a small grove of elk on the edge of town, has created a very tangible business community in Elk Grove Village, the largest consolidated business park in North America. Its 5.9 square miles is made up of nearly 3,600 businesses and employs about 100,000 people. Located adjacent to O’Hare International Airport, it is an effectual coming together of the largest concentration of manufacturers and logistics companies in the Midwest.

Hesperia, California

Population: 90,173
Unemployment: 11.70%
Sales Tax: 8.0%
Hit hard by the recession—half of area residents commute to jobs in neighboring Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties—the business and political leaders of Hesperia and four neighboring high desert communities (Adelanto, Apple Valley, Barstow and Victorville) formed Opportunity High Desert, where they’ve pooled their resources and talent to aggressively pursue and retain businesses by emphasizing how much cheaper it is to do business there than in those bordering counties.

Huntley, Illinois

Population: 24,291
Unemployment: 6.90%
Sales Tax: 7.0%
Located along the high truck-traffic corridors of Route 47 and I-90, Huntley is home to many industrial businesses attracted by the village’s close access to Chicago and business-friendly attitude. Part of that attitude is a fast-track permitting process that makes for quick and cost-efficient development approvals. How quick? Many times Huntley can turn around the process in 90 days and has numerous examples of permitting being approved in a month or less.

La Junta, Colorado

Population: 7,077
Unemployment: 7.50%
Sales Tax: 6.9%
Its small-town attitude is reflected in its nickname “The Smile Hi City,” an accurate description of its way of life. Given its renown for being a friendly place, it’s not surprising that it is also goes out of its way to make companies feel welcome, whether that’s by providing a single source for business information and statistics, arranging site visits and meetings with service providers or coordinating state and local incentive packages.

San Bernardino, California

Population: 213,295
Unemployment: 12.20%
Sales Tax: 8.25%
As part of being located within Federal Trade Zone 50, San Bernardino is not only able to offer such incentives as federal excise tax deferments on imports, streamlined customs procedures and tax credits on purchases of machinery, manufacturing equipment, data processing and communications equipment, but also inducements such as the Employee Hiring Tax Credit, which allows companies to claim close to $38,000 in tax relief for hiring eligible workers.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Population: 437,994
Unemployment: 5.10%
Sales Tax: 6.0%
Called the “best run city in America” by the online news site 24/7 Wall Street, Virginia Beach offers stability and support such as being the only city in Virginia with no machinery and tools tax. Likewise, there are no taxes on manufacturers for equipment or inventory. Companies are also attracted to a transportation infrastructure that provides businesses access to more than two-thirds of the U.S. population within a two-day drive.

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