November 05, 2009, 2:30PM
Rural and disadvantaged communities in the Northwest could receive an economic boost thanks to $30 million in new markets tax credits
allocated to Portland-based Ecotrust
nonprofit organization plans to target former timber towns struggling
to recover jobs and tribes working for economic benefits by improving
the health of forests.
The tax credits are intended to help
projects already under way to cross the last financial hurdle to
starting business. For instance, a $12 million project that has raised
$10 million in capital could get the additional $2 million it needs
through the tax credits.
Ecotrust is working with about a
dozen projects on the West Coast, said Bettina von Hagen, chief
executive of Ecotrust's Forest Management division.
The tax credits will focus in three areas, von Hagen said.
help purchase forest land that will be improved for the public benefit.
This could include economic and job creation through water quality
improvements, restoration, carbon storage, non-timber forest products
- Assist the start-up or expansion of
wood-related manufacturing, such as biomass and wood pellet facilities
and mills that create new products out of wood waste.
- Help tribes purchase and create management plans for forest land that formally was part of reservation land.
reason we're really interested in new markets tax credits is because it
provides stimulus for disadvantaged communities," von Hagen said.
The U.S. Treasury allocated $5 billion nationwide in new markets tax credits last week; $1.5 billion was from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The treasury issues the tax credits to stimulate investment in
communities suffering from poverty and unemployment. In the past, the
tax credits were directed almost entirely to urban areas.
used $50 million in tax credits received in 2005 to help businesses
that emphasized job creation in rural communities and long-term forest
restoration through timber rotations, non-timber forest products and
ecological services such as carbon storage.
"We know how
difficult it has been to get financing for these projects," von Hagen
said. "We're really anxious to bring this resource to them. It doesn't
solve all the problems, but it's a big help."
-- Abby Haight