Entertainment District Sought By CDP

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - June 1, 2011

New or existing business could receive a five-year tax incentive for capital investments under a proposal by the Community Development Partnership which would establish an "entertainment district" in Philadelphia.

Officials from the Secretary of State's office gave an overview of the Mississippi Entertainment District Act at the depot Thursday morning with over 30 city officials and business leaders in attendance.

The act was passed by the legislature in 2009 to attract such family entertainment venues as theaters, museums, golf courses and stadiums, among others, which charge patrons admission.

Jeremy A. Martin, of the Secretary of State's Tupelo office, said entertainment district status allows a business to depreciate its capital investment on construction or renovation projects over a five-year period, instead of the current 39-1/2-year period.

In return, the qualifying business must collect an additional $2 per ticket, pass or admission for five years which goes back into the state's general fund.

Gaming establishments licensed under the gaming control act are not eligible for the tax incentive.

Businesses in an "entertainment district" can make application for the tax incentive through the Secretary of State's office.

Martin said restaurants, accommodating 40 or more people, would qualify for the tax incentive if they provided live family entertainment at least three nights a week.

"The act specifically says it is for family entertainment," Martin said "It is not to be confused with resort status and anything that comes with resort status."

City and county officials can also set whatever boundaries they like on the district, like hours of operation and what the business can serve to customers.

Martin said one or more "entertainment districts" could be established within a city and county's boundaries.

He suggested that officials promote being the birthplace of Country Music star Marty Stuart in its entertainment district, among other attractions.

"Philadelphia's history, its present and its future provide an ample opportunity for economic growth in an entertainment district," Martin said.

Lindell Floyd, a special assistant to the Secretary of State, said Philadelphia was "the right fit" to take immediate action on the proposals.

He reminded business owners and others that the tax incentive was compatible to other incentives provided through the Mississippi Development Authority.

He and Martin said it was important to clearly define a district and not include the entire city because it was diminish its overall value.

Since the entertainment district act was passed four cities - Tupelo, Meridian, Columbus and Ocean Springs - have made designations.

By Steven Thomas

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