Cincinnati Working To Revise Economic Incentive Policies

Jun 6, 2016

Cincinnati officials are continuing work to update the economic incentives used to get companies to locate or expand in the city.  An outside consultant has spent nearly a year reviewing those policies and has provided city leaders with a more than 150 page report.

Council's Budget and Finance Committee heard the report Monday.

"The key goals of the incentive review were to evaluate the effectiveness of the city's current offering of economic incentives, assess the process by which potential incentive recipients are evaluated, and identify how the city's development toolkit can be enhanced to better meet our economic development goals," City Manager Harry Black wrote in a memo.

The report also looked at Cincinnati's competitiveness in the region and in the nation.

"This assessment has developed specific recommendations on how the city can improve efforts directed at economic development to enhance standard operating policies and procedures, as well as increase the efficiency of incentive programs," Black wrote.  "The report outlines five key recommendations for the city's consideration to enhance the effectiveness of Cincinnati's incentives."  

The recommendations are:

  • Deploy a more streamlined and strategic deal evaluation process
  • Leverage commercial CRA (community reinvestment area) more effectively for place-based investment and job growth
  • Refine the use of JCTC (job creation tax credit) to maximize return on investment for the city
  • Continue to innovate new mechanisms to reinvest property tax revenue in Cincinnati
  • Tailor use of programs generally to meet specific economic objectives

One council member asked Economic Development Director Oscar Bedolla if the city can wean itself away from offering such incentives.

"I think we need to look at this in the context of the overall market, and so if you look at New York," Bedolla said, "New York is a mature market but New York still uses incentives.  But I don't see ourselves at a point where we would wean ourselves off, it's more about application and how we apply those incentives."

The city will be working on implementing the five recommendations in the report to enhance and increase the efficiency of economic incentive policies by the end of the year.