| 2015 Q2 | story by MEGAN GILLILAND | photos provided by CITY OF LAWRENCE |
The City of Lawrence recently released the 2014 Economic Development & Compliance Report. Published annually, the report provides an overview of active economic development projects receiving public assistance. In addition to property tax abatements, the report covers other projects eligible for public assistance through both major and non-traditional economic development support programs. The city uses these programs, including tax abatement; Neighborhood Revitalization Areas; Tax Increment Financing; Transportation Development Districts and Industrial Revenue Bonds to provide assistance for eligible businesses seeking to increase community jobs and investment.
“Our analysis of historical assistance and investment shows that in 2014, for every $1 in public sector investment, approximately $5.40 in private sector capital investment is realized,” said Diane Stoddard, Interim City Manager for Lawrence. “For 2014, there was $4,804,588 invested by private businesses and corporations versus $889,042 in public investment assistance. This investment figure is only direct investment and does not include the multiplier effect of the companies’ investments.”
Five companies received property tax abatements in 2014, all of which met or exceeded compliance measures as per their performance agreements. In addition, performance metrics were substantially higher than targeted:
Real Property Investment was 28% above projected target ($10.6M+)
Personal Property Investment was 7% above projected target ($10.3M+)
Job Creation was almost double that projected (166 targeted, 330 realized)
Wages were 23% above projected target
After subtracting abatement amounts ($181,318), these projects paid $399,900 in net new property taxes.
The City of Lawrence also participates in non-traditional support programs to help initiate and support economic development in the community. These programs include employee training incentives, support for economic development services and facilities like the Bioscience and Technology Business Center, the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and the KU Small Business Development Center. The city also provided improvements in neighborhoods which support economic growth. In 2014, the city authorized the addition of affordable housing in East Lawrence through the 9 Del Lofts project. The city will reimburse the developer for up to $270,967 in neighborhood infrastructure investments.
“The City of Lawrence provides multiple support programs for economic development opportunities designed to enhance the local economy and quality of life,” Stoddard said. “Since these programs involve public funding for current and future community assets, the projects are viewed as an investment in which the city analyzes the risks and returns. Projects are selected which best balance the goals of growing the local economy with the required amount of investment. Most of our incentives are actually generated from the project itself from revenues that come from the project.”
The city’s Economic Development Coordinator, Britt Crum-Cano is responsible for the collection and analysis of data for economic development projects. The report profiles all of the companies in Lawrence receiving tax or economic incentives for development.
Recently, the city has used Neighborhood Revitalization Programs (NRA) to promote reinvestment and revitalization of properties, which in turn have a positive economic effect upon neighborhoods and the city in general. In 2014, the city had NRAs at 8th and Pennsylvania, 1040 Vermont, 810/812 Pennsylvania, 1106 Rhode Island, 1101/1115 Indiana and 900 Delaware. NRA projects can receive a partial tax reimbursement based on the difference between the property’s original and improved value.
In 2014, the city also provided assistance to Rock Chalk Park for shared infrastructure costs within the park including parking, walking trails, all necessary sanitary sewer, storm sewer, water detention facilities, public and private streets, sidewalks and related infrastructure improvements. The city provided a reimbursement of $11,452,604 for shared infrastructure and reimbursed $1,447,388.89 in permit and development fees for the project.
The full report is available online at www.lawrenceks.org/economic-development, under the Reports section. The city also provides all economic development forms, policies and procedures on the same website.