BUTTE FALLS — An enterprise zone, which could stimulate economic growth in three struggling areas of Jackson County, has been approved by the Oregon Community and Economic Development Department.

BUTTE FALLS — An enterprise zone, which could stimulate economic growth in three struggling areas of Jackson County, has been approved by the Oregon Community and Economic Development Department.

Proposed three months ago, the zone includes portions of Rogue River, the Tolo Road area near Central Point and a parcel just outside the city limits of Butte Falls.

"The goal of our enterprise zone is to bring new jobs and businesses into the county," said Kelly Madding, director of Jackson County Development Services. "At the same time we want to keep those businesses and the businesses we already have."

She was speaking to an audience of about 100 Butte Falls residents and schoolchildren who had come to a town-hall-style meeting of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners, held Wednesday morning in the elementary school cafeteria/gym.

Madding said that a business agreeing to locate in the zone would receive a tax exemption for three to five years, with the idea that the business would stay in the area.

Butte Falls Mayor Ron Ormond said he hopes the new zone will stimulate his pet project, bottling and selling more of the town's water from Ginger Springs.

"We sell 10,000 gallons a week, at 2 cents a gallon, already," he said. "That means $10,000 to the city every year. We sell to anybody now, but if we could set up a bottling plant, the sky's the limit."

Local businessman Jerry Beams came to the meeting to see if the enterprise zone could help him with his new log furniture business.

"Right now, it's just me," said Beams, "and Commissioner (C.W.) Smith said I would have to have at least three workers."

"Jerry built me our log cabin house," said his wife, Christina Beam. "We should find out if we can hire our kids. We already have two teenagers who are helping out."

Madding said zone managers would be hired, but businesses that want to locate in the zone now may contact the county or Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc.

The Butte Falls meeting was the first of at least three regular Jackson County Board of Commissioners' meetings scheduled for area schools throughout the year.

"It's great to get out into the community," said Smith. "We get to hear the people we never hear from and they get to see how their government works."

Bill Miller is a freelance writer living in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.