• Two midwestern cities recently released reports examining their economic development incentives. These studies each had different objectives, one with a project orientation and the other with a strategic focus. Both are publicly accessible and are worth checking out if you are interested in incentives evaluations. St. Louis The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy and efficiency of the city's economic development incentives as well as to answer basic questions on: dollar amount of incentive use, where and when incentives have been used, characteristics of incentivized projects, and how...

  • Last week’s inaugural Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) Intro Incentives webcourse was a success. I had the pleasure of serving as course advisor and working with CDFA to design a program to take participants through the fundamentals of incentive program management. During our two days, we heard from top-notch speakers addressing good practices in all phases of the incentive process, including: Designing and deploying incentives Setting goals, defining metrics for program performance and evaluation, and establishing guidelines for program use are the foundation of successful incentive use. We heard...

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  • On the heels of its recent brief on Better Incentive Information, the Pew Charitable Trusts released a research collection related to economic development tax incentives best practices. The collection includes a variety of issue briefs, reports and fact sheets. Check it out here. The Business Incentives Initiative, a joint project of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) and the Pew Charitable Trusts, is one component of Pew's incentive work. Learn more about the Business Incentives Initiative findings by checking out these previous posts from Smart Incentives:  Business Incentives Initiative Launch– April 2014 Evaluations are essential to...

  • Incentive use has grown dramatically and become a more prominent - and challenging - part of economic development work. Today's environment requires better analytics to reduce risk, quantify benefits, refine strategies, explain and build support for decisions and, most importantly, to achieve better outcomes when using economic development incentives. To accomplish these objectives, economic developers need to manage incentives through their entire life cycle, not just complete a deal. The graphic above summarizes the fundamental elements of good incentives program management. The four core elements are data, analysis, transparency and accountability....

  • Summer unofficially starts next week, and that means it’s time for our annual word cloud. New this year to the top ten terms are tax and data, reflecting our efforts to share information about tax abatement disclosure guidelines from GASB as well as several posts addressing tax increment financing (TIF). We’ve also had a heavy emphasis on data collection and management for compliance monitoring and program evaluation. Goals, benefits as well as business and investment continue to be leading themes. We've been focusing on state programs and evaluations, but look for...

  • The short answer: the public believes tax expenditures cost less than direct spending. What is a tax expenditure? The US Government Accountability Office explains that: Tax expenditures are reductions in a taxpayer’s tax liability that are the result of special exemptions and exclusions from taxation, deductions, credits, deferrals of tax liability or preferential tax rates. Similar to spending programs, tax expenditures represent a substantial federal commitment to a wide range of mission areas. . . .Tax expenditures are often aimed at policy goals similar to those of federal spending programs....