Louisiana offers tax relief to prevent layoffs

Louisiana is ''getting on with'' doing something about unemployment, says James Harris, the state's assistant secretary of commerce.

With state unemployment running at 10.1 percent, Mr. Harris says Louisiana's unique tax-relief program for manufacturers suffering heavy layoffs will at least ''allow jobs to be saved.'' Created by an Industry Assistance Act passed this year, the program has now lured its first two would-be takers.

Oct. 27, the state's board of commerce and industry reviewed two applications for the program: one from Kast Metals Company, the other from Dixie Brewing Company.

Kast Metals, a foundry averaging 1,250 employees over the past five years, is now down to 361. If the company's application is approved, it expects to receive a total of $1.5 million over the next five years from abatements of the state's sales, use, and franchise taxes. Dixie Brewing Company is anticipating a $750, 000 break from excise taxes over the next five years.

The legislation, says Mr. Harris ''will allow these companies to keep going, and will mean immediate tax relief if they are approved.''

Also before the board this week, were four companies that have applied to set up shop in four of the state's 400 designated enterprise zones. While other states have been thinking about the zone idea - Connecticut has just designated six zones - Louisiana officials say theirs is the first state ready to approve applications from companies.

The four companies are SFE Technologies, an electronic component manufacturer seeking to construct a plant in New Orleans that would employ 400; Martco Partnership, a wood block manufacturer expecting to employ 150 in southwest Louisiana; Cyprus Communications Corporation, which is applying for tax relief to operate a new TV station employing 30 people in central Louisiana; and MacAllen Chemical Inc., which wants to construct a plant in the northeast part of the state.

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