• If you are thinking about how to deploy a dashboard for your economic development organization, take a good look at the new Performance Metrics platform from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD). Dashboards like this are a popular way to share information on government program performance. Economic development organizations are increasingly developing their own dashboards or transparency portals to provide better data on incentive use and program outcomes. The TNECD Performance Metrics platform’s purpose, according to COO Ted Townsend, is to “serve as a valuable resource for...

  • Data sharing has the potential to change the way states manage incentive program compliance and evaluation efforts. Data sharing “is a formal process by which state agencies that collect and manage administrative records, such as corporate income tax and unemployment insurance records, may grant other government agencies and outside researchers access to microdata within those records to support authorized activities.” The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) has created the State Data Sharing Initiative to identify ways that economic and workforce development programs can safely and securely access administrative data...

  • Economic development leaders gathered recently to consider the implications of forthcoming tax abatement disclosures. While considering tax abatement disclosure guidelines in relation to our work as economic developers and the nuts and bolts of reporting and compliance, we spent most of our time on communication - specifically how best to talk to colleagues, elected officials and the public about disclosed data. From the Smart Incentives perspective, we suggest the following: Do now Communicate with government finance staff and/or budgetary officials to share data Consider how multiple stakeholders will use and react to the disclosed...

  • We are going back to basics this week. I recently presented a workshop on incentives at Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College focused on balancing the need to maximize economic outcomes with the judicious and transparent use of public funds. Among the takeaways: Incentive Basics and Trends Incentives are tools that help us achieve our community’s economic development goals. Smart incentive use is not just about winning a deal. Lines are blurring between traditional business incentives and development finance programs. Tax credits are the largest single category of state incentive, but...

  • GASB 77 establishes guidance requiring state and local governments to disclose certain information about tax abatement agreements. A recent CDFA//BNY Mellon webcast brought together 3 panelists to discuss the impact of GASB 77 for economic and community development professionals as well as state and local governments. Smart Incentives began the program with an overview of the factors driving interest in incentives disclosure, including growth in the use of tax abatements and increased expectations for data-drive accountability in government programs. We also discussed the fundamentals of transparency and accountability for incentives...

  • Reporting and disclosure on incentive use sounds easy, but poses a huge challenge to many local governments. A new report from Good Jobs First reviews the online disclosure practices of 50 of the nation’s biggest counties and cities. Here are some of the takeaways: Study authors reviewed one or two programs each in 50 localities, selecting those that are the most costly, most frequently used, and/or most controversial. Among 85 of programs that could be rated, only 35 of those disclose some company-specific information and could be described as “transparent.” To...