For the last year, the Caldwell Economic Development Council has been working to establish a foreign trade zone to service Ada and Canyon Counties.
About 50 business people, realtors, local officials and others gathered at the Caldwell Airport today to learn about the potential benefits.
First they had to learn the basics. Just what is a foreign trade zone, and how does it work? The answer to that question can get complicated, and fast. But the basic description is this: a foreign trade zone allows a company in the U.S. to avoid or defer paying customs duties when it imports parts, materials, or even finished goods. That allows U.S. companies to be more competitive in the global economy.
Caldwell Economic Development Council director Steve Fultz says the council has a clear reason for wanting a foreign trade zone in the Treasure Valley. “There is actually a business that we have been working with for a year, so they’re the ones that really that kind of prompted the action,” he said.
Fultz can’t name the incoming business — that’s confidential — but he calls it a “distribution center” and says it will bring jobs to the area.
As for how the foreign trade zone might benefit existing local companies, several business owners came to the Caldwell Airport to learn more. Rob Roberts founded R & M Steel Company, a Caldwell-based metal building manufacturer that employs 60 people. Roberts is evaluating whether his company could avoid paying customs costs for imported steel. “We use domestic steel on what we manufacture, and then we also use import steel,” he said. “So what I’m hoping for is that if there’s no tax on it that would make us more competitive.”
Caldwell’s Foreign Trade Zone application is awaiting one last signature, from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Fultz says that last step could be complete any day.