Hello all.

Last week explored two important aspects when attracting green businesses. This week, the last two amenities we see in most green company requests: Business Climate and Incentives. We also will go over some covenants that sites targeting green companies may want to consider for a business park.

Business climate is important to all businesses. Is your state, your county and your community invested in making businesses prosper? Most of the communities I work with cannot effectively influence the state and has a difficult time influencing the county. They themselves, however, can be agile, proactive, and quickly react when faced with issues. Proactively, we recommend education of councils on things like TIF, Urban Renewal, the pace of projects, and the need to be agile. Agility is key as issues always arise with projects and a community’s ability to quickly and efficiently address these issues, especially in rural communities, provide assurances to the companies looking to move there. Green companies want to see sustainability already embraced, like LEED buildings, City offices and other community facilities promoting energy reduction. Recycling programs, in fill incentives, and promotion of energy efficiency rehab tax reduction all let green companies know that their philosophy and culture will mesh well in the community. Less frequent but still important to some are the local wages, social services, and other worker support systems as it relates to responsible social impacts.

Next, the 900 pound gorilla, the elephant, the third rail if you will: cash. Specifically, incentives. For most industries a community, county, and state have set parameters and awards. High Quality jobs, retraining, local purchasing of goods all can reduce the amount of capital a company either has to initially invest or will be rebated in the future. Green companies are the same way. To attract a company focusing on responsibly building, responsible business practices, and social awareness, incentivize the things they already do or what you want them to do. Provide rebates for solar panels, more so if they allow residential or community buildings to connect to the lines. Look at the water usage and recycling plan. Would it beneficial to reduce the tax or fee in correlation to them reducing their impact on the system? We have seen companies fight to eliminate their property taxes for ten years to turn around and use a PILOT (Payment in lieu of taxes) for nearly the same amount. This stabilizes their cost and creates a fixed cost. The city then gets what they would have made in property taxes and distributes it as they see fit. This does impact the capture emergency services and school get from taxes, but responsible cities pledge a percentage, again, roughly the same amount they would have received from taxes, to the parties.

So, before we begin to target green companies, we need:

Infrastructure planned and green energy as part of that plan

Risk mitigated sites, especially environmental issues

A positive business climate and one with the green philosophy and culture at the heart

Incentives the increase with the “greenness” of the business and their continued efforts to become more green.

Next week, we will look at Woodward Iowa, the nation’s first Green Certified Building Site and what makes them special.


Good morning!

Over the past few posts and for the next few more, we have been looking at Green Business/Industry as an economic driver and target market. The last post, we differentiated between Green Company and Green Industry (the first concerning themselves with their business impact and the later assisting others with reducing impact.) In this post, we will discuss 2 proactive steps communities can take before and while they are targeting Green Companies to a new greenfield site. We will discuss the intricacies of Green in-fill later as it comes with its own set of landmines. New sites, prospective sites, or communities targeting Green businesses have an advantage as they do not have to retrofit.

First, Green is a niche market. Though the trend is for every business to embrace some green practices, a true Green Businesses represent a very small sector. This is not meant to be disheartening; instead, it is an opportunity. If there are businesses with a deep concern for environmental and social impact looking to expand, having a boutique zoning and uniquely designed with green initiatives will be more attractive than a site where the business must do all the sustainable work itself.

So, what do Green Businesses look for in new sites?

Our advice: treat Green Businesses as you would any other sector. Study the trends, find the key factors, and plan to address them. As we see it, every business entity, including green, look for infrastructure, site studies and any risk found in the studies mitigated, a welcoming business climate, and some sort of enticement/incentive when moving or building.

Infrastructure: No business will move to a location that cannot be served in a feasible (cost effective) way. This is true of green businesses as well. On-site renewable energy, renewable focused utility providers, progressive stormwater and wastewater covenants, and mass transit to and from the site are all recent examples of information requested by green companies.

Risk mitigated: Wetlands, endangered species, cultural history, soil, and any other required studies can be done prior to a site visit by an interested party. These are of particular concern of green companies, especially if there are any issues found. Mitigating these risks may cost the community upfront, but providing official documentation that the land is ready does two things: It advances timelines for construction at least 6 months (the minimum time it takes to complete these studies) and it makes the land more marketable, thus worth more, allowing the community to recoup the investment.

We realize this is a very macro view of Green Sites, but we have often found that communities make it more complicated than necessary. Next post, we will take on Business Climate and Incentives.


Green Businesses vs Green Industry
Last blog, we discussed that Green initiatives aim to balance the progress of business and humanity with the impacts these advancements make on the earth and finite resources. This post, we hope to clearly differentiate between a Green Business and those in the Green industry.
Green business has the central goal of reducing, optimally to zero, its impact is on the environment (local, regional, and global), the community resources, or the local and global economy and human rights. That convoluted statement can be boiled down to this simple idea: impacts outweigh profits. This is not to say there is no room for profit; rather, profits need to be measured against the human capital and resources required to make those profits. New Belgium Beers is an example of this. They issue bicycles to each of their employees to reduce vehicle use, they have installed solar panels to reduce impact on local utilities, they self-impose a 12% tax on internal utility usage that goes to renewable projects onsite, they cycle their peak demand in opposition to the peak demand of the community reducing stress on the utility provider, and they recycle 99.9% of waste, including rerouting byproduct methane, a greenhouse gas, into the heating system of the brewery. New Belgium is also the fourth largest (by market share) independent brewer and eighth overall in the US. This success is due, in part to, their corporate culture and sustainable practices, showing that profits and green practices are not mutually exclusive.
A business in the Green industry, however, do not necessarily follow the same model. Instead, they produce, create, or sell sustainable items, develop and implement eco-friendly programs, or provide guidance for sustainable development. An example of this is Impact 7G, a Dallas County firm. Their environmental scientists, planners, geologists, biologists, foresters, drillers, geographic information system analysts, and regulatory specialists are committed to providing quality data and information for sustainable solutions. So, in addition to reducing their personal impact, Impact 7G works with others to help advance the sustainable idea.
It is a fine line, but we like to say a Green business optimizes itself, a Green Industry business optimizes others. This distinction is pivotal as an ED group, a chamber, or a community begins to target market to these sectors as they have different requirements.
Next, we will explore the general community and site requirements that Green businesses look for.



Green Initiative

We at Greater Dallas County Development Alliance are focused on creating a sustainable future. We see renewable energy, efficient uses of energy, and environmentally conscious construction as pivotal in the next era of progress. Fittingly, we have the first McCallum Sweeney “Green Certified” in the nation and continually market the lofty renewable energy goals of both Iowa and our utility partners. But we still get questions concerning the efforts to attract “green” companies and employees. In the next few blog posts, we hope to answer these questions and more.

Let’s begin at the beginning:

What is a “green?”Green is a term that can be used interchangeably with environmentally friendly, eco-friendly, eco-conscious, or sustainable. All these terms are defined similarly as ‘a conscious effort by people, government, or businesses to balance the conservation and preservation of the Earth’s resources with human progress.’ As it relates to Economic Development, it is the practice of attracting companies and supporting local companies that are either are Green themselves or are in the Green industry. Additionally, it is promoting more sustainable business practices for both existing inventory and new builds.

In the next post, we will breakdown the difference between those Green businesses and businesses in the Green industry.


Welcome to the launch of the new GDCDA site!

When GDCDA (then Dallas County Development) had its first board meeting in 1988, Microsoft just introduced everyone to Works (not Word) and Excel. Today, I am writing this blog post using Microsoft Office on a phone which is simultaneously providing navigation in a moving vehicle.

This anecdote as an example of the blistering pace of technology. We considered this progress, the growth of Dallas County and the fact we are vanguards in the Economic Development industry and realized our old site did not represent any of these things well. It was dated, clunky, full of broken links and rather plain.

Our goal for this new site was to have something unique, clean, accessible and even a little customized. BingBang, out of West Des Moines, took this vision and our culture and built this site. We feel it perfectly represents who Greater Dallas County Development is, how we perform, our network of professionals, and why Dallas County is THE place in Iowa, and the nation, to start or expand your business.

Changes and new features include:

1. Visually striking:
Our last website had marketing material required a user to download in order to understand the desired intent. This site has testimonials, graphics, and videos, all making for a comprehensive experience without requiring the user to go outside the site. There are still downloadable documents, but instead of marketing material, they are data-driven documents made for those with specific questions

2. Secure:
We have created this site in compliance with Site Identity Certification. You will notice a lock icon in the address bar indicating that this site has been verified as belonging to Greater Dallas County Development and is secure as it related to any sort of sensitive information

3. Intuitive:
The site adds pages and information below the clickable function, making the page open like a document. Instead of bouncing between pages, it simply adds you requested page to the current page, making movement throughout the individual track of the site seamless. These tracks will allow you, the user, to see what aspects of the site you are most concerned with without having to slog through irrelevant information. The new site is also mobile and tablet optimized.

Please, enjoy the website and if you have any questions, we have a “Contact Us” section that will get you right to my desk.

Thank you and have a productive week,

Jeremy M Voss

Project Manager-GDCDA


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