HARRISBURG Senator David G. Argall has offered an amendment to Senate Bill 1237, which would require Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development to annually report to the General Assembly on the costs and benefits of Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZs) every year.

The amendment to review the state's tax-free zones for economic development was unanimously approved by the Senate.

"In the midst of this difficult economy, taxpayers have spoken loud and clear for stronger accountability," said Argall, whose 2006 doctoral dissertation reviewed the benefits and drawbacks of KOZs as an economic development tool. "Earlier this year, I held a public hearing to evaluate the successes and failures of our local KOZs. This amendment will make it much easier to assess these important job-creation figures on a statewide level to ensure we are as economically competitive as possible."

Argall's amendment will make DCED monitor the following:

· Verifiable job creation and job retention data,

· Information on the types of jobs created and average hourly wages,

· Number of years in the program,

· Annual, unduplicated public and private capital investment amounts,

· Business type and description,

· Types and amounts of other economic development assistance received from DCED, and

· Documentation that proper participants identified as relocations meet the increased full-time employment, increased capital investment or lease agreement requirements.

"With high unemployment, we need to protect our taxpayers and ensure we are doing everything we can to create a strong environment for job creators," said Argall.