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Economic development - John Ball

By Corene Brisendine

To what extent should the city link economic development incentives to specific wage levels, and what should those wage levels be?

I support the current city process that awards more points to businesses that pay their employees higher salaries when they are being considered for economic development incentives.  I don’t support the idea that businesses that receive economic development incentives to relocate to Manhattan should be required to pay the so-called living wage.  A person’s wages should be set by the market, based on the value of the product being produced and the requisite skill, training, education and experience necessary to produce the product or service.

What kinds of economic development are most important to the city?

The kind of economic development that increases the opportunity for employment or provides new services to the community or both.  The opportunity would provide high wages, fit into the character of Manhattan, and increase the tax base without competing with existing businesses.  The most probable area of economic expansion in the near term would be businesses related to biotech and the NBAF.  A specific example would be the construction of lower level bio-safety research labs that will be required to support the Bio-safety Level 4 research labs within the NBAF.

Should the city use tax abatements to bring businesses to Manhattan?

Companies should not be paid to relocate here, but should be attracted here because of low taxes and the exceptional quality of life. Economic development negotiations can be very complex. While negotiating economic incentives with potential new businesses, the tax payer must always be protected with low risk incentives.  If a minor tax incentive is part of the package and makes sense, then the business must be bound via bond or other legal document to fulfill the length of the agreement so that the full return on the taxpayer’s investment is repaid. For example, if a new business gets a tax incentive for two years, but the taxpayer investment recoupment point is 4 years, then the new business must be contractually bound to operate in Manhattan for a minimum of 4 years.  If the company decides to leave before the 4 year mark, then the company must be bound by contract to pay back the incentives.

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