If city hall gets its way, it'll soon become much more affordable to run a business in much of Hesperia.


The city is applying to get much of Hesperia declared an "enterprise zone" by the state.


"What it basically means is a designated area of the city that provides those businesses that are located in [the zone], or locate to it ... get certain state tax incentives and local incentives that we provide from the city," Hesperia Director of Economic Development Steve Lantsberger said Friday. "The intent is to stimulate development in those areas."


Within a state-designated enterprise zone, businesses are eligible for tax credits and benefits, including up to $31,544 in tax credits for each qualified employee hired, sales tax credits on purchases of $20 million per year on qualified machinery and parts and preference on state contracts.


The good news for businesses is that the planned enterprise zone is pretty much where they'd probably want to set up shop in Hesperia anyway. The zone would include much of Main Street, I Avenue and the Interstate 15 corridor.


But the bad news is that Hesperia getting much of its commercial and industrial areas declared an enterprise zone is far from a sure thing. The city has applied for the status with the state Department of Housing and Community Development, which will declare a handful of areas this year to be enterprise zones for the next 15 years.


"It's competitive: There's four enterprise zones being designated in this round. We don't know the number of applicants, but we think it's between 10 and 20," said Lantsberger.


He hopes the city will know the results of its application in June.


Ultimately, though, Lantsberger said there's only so much the city can do to jump-start the local economy.


"We're seeing a lot of problems with companies being able to finance their projects. And unfortunately, we have limited resources, and we can't help them fully finance every project," he said. "We can do some financing, but we have to be careful and cautious. We're using taxpayer money, and the last thing I want to do is put that money at risk."


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