Legislation would expand West Philadelphia re-development

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) unveiled a plan last week to expand re-development in Philadelphia to western parts of the city with the introduction of new legislation that would extend benefits to businesses.

West Philadelphia was named by the city administration as a "Promise Zone" - a designation aimed at encouraging redevelopment. Casey's legislation would extend employment tax credits and allow businesses to write off investments in infrastructure sooner.

"Providing tax credits for job creation and allowing small businesses to more quickly write down their infrastructure investment can help create jobs and boost economic growth," Casey said. "Revitalizing a community like West Philly will have a positive impact on the entire region. Congress should quickly come together and pass this legislation."

The two-square mile Promise Zone is home to more than 35,000 residents. It is bordered by the Schuylkill River to the east, Girard Avenue on the north, 48th Street to the west and Sansom Street on the south.

Businesses that employ residents within the zone will be provided an employment credit, which will apply to the first $15,000 of qualifying employee wages. The rate would be 20 percent for zone residents employed within the zone and 10 percent for residents employed outside of the zone.

Qualified property placed in service within the zone, including tangible property with a recovery period of less than 20 years, water utility property, certain software and leasehold improvement property, would also, under the legislation, be eligible for additional first-year depreciation of 100 percent of the property's adjusted basis.

Goals of the Promise Zone include adult education and re-training, loans and technical assistance for small businesses and a supermarket development that would provide jobs and access to healthy food.

The designation also seeks to prevent and reduce crime to attract new residents and investment through such strategies as foot patrol, hot-spot policing and deterrence.

Project partners include Drexel University, which seeks to provide career counseling and mentoring programs, along with Mt. Vernon Manor, Philadelphia LISC, People's Emergency Center, Philadelphia School District, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, the city's commerce department, Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Office of Housing and Community Development.