Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Business

May 8, 2011

Bill would make tax breaks easier for ‘dinosaur buildings’

— Bricks and other debris lay behind a barbed-wire fence at an empty building south of downtown

Kokomo.

The structure is large — 64,000 square feet.

It is old — almost 40 years.

It is what legislators and economic development officials call a “dinosaur.”

Set back from Home Avenue, the building is one of several structures in Howard County that could become easier to sell if Gov. Mitch Daniels signs a bill making tax breaks easier to obtain for “dinosaur buildings,” government officials say.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. maintains a database listing empty or under-used factories and other large buildings around the state that are for sale.

Eleven buildings in Kokomo are listed on the website. Two of them meet the current size requirement to be eligible for a tax incentive to sell old, empty buildings and avoid blight.

The Dinosaur Tax Credit Bill, co-authored by Rep. Ed Clere of New Albany, downsizes several requirements that have to be met for companies to earn what’s known as the industrial recovery income tax credit.

It requires local officials to designate a facility as an “industrial recovery site” and work with state officials at the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to promote the site.

But it reduces the number of years, from 20 to 15, in which a vacant industrial facility must have been in service, and it reduces the percentage of a facility, from 75 percent to 50 percent, that must not be utilized for the facility to be considered vacant.

It also cuts, from two years to one year, the length of time the facility must be vacant to be eligible.

The most significant change is the size of the structure. The bill moves the bar from 250,000 square feet down to 50,000 square feet.

Clere said reduction is critical.

“We’re sharpening an existing tool,” Clere said. “Because the credit has

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