Businesses in Hesperia's enterprise zone have picked up tax credits for more than 140 employees since 2010.

"I think, year to date, we've actually had 80 vouchers approved, which is between Jan. 1 and today," said Steve Lantsberger, the city's deputy director of economic development.

Sixty tax vouchers were filed between April, when the zone became active, and the end of the year.

"If we stay on pace, we'll double last year," Lantsberger. "I think that's a function of we have a pretty intense effort to educate businesspeople."

The enterprise zone covers most of the city, outside of residential areas. Businesses only need to be located within an enterprise zone to qualify. Ninety-five percent of existing Hesperia businesses are in Hesperia's enterprise zone.

Operating in a state-designated enterprise zone offers a number of benefits to businesses, including:

Up to $37,440 in sales tax credits over five years for each qualified employee they hire.
Purchases of qualified machinery or parts can earn state tax credits.
Lenders to businesses in the enterprise zone are eligible for benefits.
Businesses operating in the enterprise zone earn preference points when competing for state contracts.

Officials don't know how many Hesperia businesses are taking advantage of many of the enterprise zone benefits.

"The only ones we get directly involved with are enterprise zone hiring benefit vouchers," as the city has to verify employee eligibility, Lantsberger said.

And they still haven't seen all of the vouchers he expects them to see.

"A lot of companies have yet to file those vouchers," Lantsberger said. "There's a lot more jobs that were created in the enterprise zone than just the 140."

Gov. Jerry Brown talked about axing the enterprise zone program as a cost-cutting measure earlier in the year, a move that was opposed by a coalition of California cities and business interests. In the end, legislation to cut the program never materialized.

"It's still intact, it wasn't changed," Lantsberger said. "There are some pending bills that would make some minor modifications, but those are yet to be signed into law."

A map of Hesperia's enterprise zone and more information are available at www.CityOfHesperia.us/EZ.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.