Last week the city launched the San Francisco Enterprise Zone Web App, a website that allows local businesses to apply online for the Enterprise Zone hiring tax credit and makes the whole process more efficient. The web-based tool replaces the completely paper-based application created in 1997. The program provides incentives to encourage business investment and the creation of new jobs in the city’s Enterprise Zone areas.
“I am committed to making it easier for local businesses to operate and grow jobs in San Francisco,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee in a statement. “The Enterprise Zone Web App takes a powerful tax incentive program and brings it online so small businesses, manufacturers and other firms can save time while they save money.”
The creation of the app was spurred by the city’s small business community, who has strongly voiced support for streamlining regulations, improving government efficiency, and enhancing accessibility of programs.
Although the program, which can save a company up to $37,000 per employee, has been available for more than 15 years, SFMade Executive Director Kate Sofis noted that many of the over 400 local manufacturers she works with either were unaware of the tax credit or felt the application process was too cumbersome.
“The whole process of collecting and filing for Enterprise Zone credits up until now has been so complicated that a whole private sector industry has grown up around consultants whom companies pay to help file for these credits,” said Sofis at a news conference.
By making the process easier to navigate, the city hopes that more businesses take advantage of this valuable incentive and use the savings to reinvest in both human and physical capital helping promote development in designated economically distressed areas.
“The Enterprise Zone hiring tax credit is really important to our company,” said Marissa Andres, Controller at Mackenzie Warehouse, an auto parts distributor located in Potrero Hill at the news conference. “The savings we earn in tax credits are used for hiring and retaining employees. The online tool is simple and straight-forward and saves me valuable time.”
This tool is only the first of many, if Mayor Lee has his way. Lee suggested that it might serve as a prototype for other permits and applications the city requires businesses to file, leading to even higher levels of efficiency.