To what extent should the city link economic development incentives to specific wage levels, and what should those wage levels be?
I am not a proponent of the living wage mandate. I believe the economic development model or scorecard that was developed a few years ago that weights wages and benefits as part of the overall evaluation for incentives has worked well since inception. It is a more comprehensive evaluation of the incoming business for the commission to review. I do not disagree with the premise that we should be working toward bringing companies to Manhattan that provide good wages and fit the primary workforce that is available.
What kinds of economic development are most important to the city?
I believe that as a community, we need to identify what types of businesses we want to attract and will fit the workforce and infrastructure that is available. However, as a region we need to support one another in putting a strong regional identity forward and attract businesses to the region. When we work together we all win. This is shown in NBAF and is a good model to follow. I also believe that we should not be looking at businesses that are immediately looking for handouts. The business should have real capital in the game in investing in their own business. When companies have their own cash into a project, its likelihood of success is significantly improved and they are and will be more engaged in success and the community.
Should the city use tax abatements to bring businesses to Manhattan?
Normally no. However, from time to time when it does make sense, Civics Plus as an example, it can be a good mechanism. The company is investing heavily in Manhattan in many ways but more importantly with a significant new building. The existing taxes on the property were not abated, which allows some revenue generation from the site. It is similar to the TIF financing done in the redevelopment area. It is always an option when there are limited options available but one that should be used with great caution. Our neighbors to the west have seen the result of over using abatements as an incentive and the negative revenue consequences from that.