Enterprise zones are helping create jobs in Utah's economically distressed rural counties, according to Ed Meyer, director of the Rural Development Program in the Utah Division of Business and Economic Development.

In 1988, the Legislature passed a bill authorizing enterprise zones and providing tax credits for manufacturing companies that create new jobs or make fixed-asset investments in many rural counties. Meyer said a report shows the program was a qualified success.He estimates that 39 companies qualify for enterprise zone tax credits. These companies have generated 800 new jobs and invested $110 million in new buildings and equipment in rural Utah. Thirty of the 39 companies earning tax credits were new or existing Utah companies.

"We are excited that this new incentive is helping many kinds of companies including those expanding or starting up in rural Utah as well new firms recruited to our state," Meyer said.

John Williams, chairman of Utah Small Cities Inc., said the enterprise zones have not yet realized their full potential. "While we are excited with the results, we are disappointed that more small start-up firms have not earned enterprise zone credits. We feel this is because young rural firms simply cannot locate capital to start a business," he said.

Williams said the relatively small number of start-up firms is especially troublesome for the smaller, more remote counties that are unlikely to attract a firm from outside Utah. "If the Legislature wants enterprise zones to have the greatest possible impact, it will have to find a way to finance small loans for young companies," he said.