Last week explored two crucial aspects when attracting green businesses. This week, the previous 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.
The business climate is vital to all businesses. Are your state, your county, and your community invested in making companies prosper? Most of the cities I work with cannot effectively influence the state and have a difficult time impacting county directives. They, 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, infill 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 invest initially 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 a; ready 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, primarily environmental issues
A favorable 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 greener.
Next week, we will look at Woodward, Iowa, the nation’s first Green Certified Building Site and what makes them unique.