• 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...

  • Economic impact analyses are valuable tools for generating insights into the value a new investment can bring to a region, but what does it really mean for your decision-making or tell you about your economy? Guest blogger Paul Scheuren of Impact DataSource explains the essentials of economic impact and shares his firm's know-how in today's article. Economic impacts occur anytime money changes hands; from consumer to business or even business to business. The biggest misconception is that there is a single value that represents the mystical concept of economic impact. Economic impact...

  • Sustainable economic development is reportedly important to a majority of economic development leaders, yet a triple bottom line approach is not a common practice. Why? The authors of a recent article in Economic Development Quarterly, “The Triple Bottom Line and Sustainable Economic Development Theory and Practice,” offer some reasons and propose a set of remedies. First, economic development training and credentialing tends not to address the triple bottom line (TBL) or sustainable economic development. Simply put, professionals are not being equipped to address these issues as a matter of course....

  • There are literally thousands of state and local incentive programs, many of which are – at least on paper – intended to help people in need or places that have been left behind. Here are several ways in which incentives are designed to achieve the goals of inclusive and equitable economic development. People-based strategies The Policy Agenda for All-In Cities from PolicyLink proposes several strategies for equitable economic development that can be connected to incentive policies, programs, and practices. A set of those strategies is intended to encourage activity to create good...