'Army' being created to let businesses know about incentives

By Timothy Boone

A project is under way to teach as many as 5,000 accountants, bookkeepers, attorneys and Realtors about access to nearly $10 billion in federal tax credits. "We want to train an army," says Don Mains, chairman of Louisiana Tax Incentives. Mains says the goal of the project is to let 120,000 state businesses know about the $8.6 billion in GO Zone and the $1.1 billion in Renewal Community Program incentives. The incentives, which go to the poorest parishes in the state and the areas hardest hit by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, include everything from wage credits to zero capital gains taxes on shares of company stock. The plan is to inform thousands of investors and financial professionals, so they can spread the word to businesses of all sizes across the state. "This is an idea of using the tax system for economic development," he says. GO Zone incentives expire in 2010, so Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Mike Olivier wants to make sure that all the money is used, Mains says. The first training sessions for the programs are scheduled to start in late November and run through the end of the year. Mains says the IRS and Louisiana Public Broadcasting are working together to develop training videos and the mobile classroom from LSU's Louisiana Business and Technology Center will also be drafted into service to get the news out. "This could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for different parts of the state," Mains says.

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