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Beachwood Discusses Building an Incentive Framework for Economic Development

A presentation from the city's economic development director laid out ideas on how the city could attract more businesses

Beachwood wanted to attract more businesses for years, and now officials have a plan to achieve that goal.

Economic Development Director Jim Doutt gave other city officials a presentation Monday on the types of firms they should target, how they should go about doing so and the selling points for their city.

"It just makes so much common sense to build this framework because it can be used as an economic development springboard for this community for years to come," Doutt said.

The framework Doutt discussed for nearly 90 minutes arose from the SZD Whiteboard study, conducted in 2011. Doutt said the initial, "out of the gate" steps of the framework are:

  • Creating a Job Creation Incentive Program. The program would incentivize companies interested in creating jobs that would add to the city's tax base. The program would be used as an attraction and retention tool with set thresholds based on the number of jobs a company could provide and how much an applicant could provide to the tax base. Each grant would be approved by council and Mayor Merle Gorden.
  • Beachwood Opportunity Fund. This loan fund would support early stage firms that are close to commercialization.
  • A "Soft Landing" Rent Support Program. This tool would provide an incentive to smaller companies, particularly those looking to relocate to Beachwood. It would be rooted in public-private partnerships with third-party Realtors or property owners looking to fill space.
  • Community Improvement Corporation. Such an organization can be set up as a public-private partnership or a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that accepts private donations. CICs can buy or lease buildings or hand out loans, Doutt said. The director cited the City of Wooster as a prime example. In Beachwood, a CIC could be an effective tool to give Commerce Park a "shot of rejuvenation," Doutt said.

Those incentives, coupled with establishing the advantages of doing business in Beachwood, should give the city a chance to attract more firms and spur more economic development, Doutt said.

"We're a top destination, a corporate center," Doutt said. "We can make claims that other communities can't claim."

The first elements of the plan that residents will see is the creation of the Job Creation Tax Incentive program. Doutt hopes to prepare legislation in the near future.

Doutt named about a dozen Northeast Ohio communities with economic development tools he has studied, and he also gleaned ideas from some of their directors. He admitted that his city is "not in the same league" as some of those communities, despite all of Beachwood's apparent advantages.

"Everybody around us has got (similar incentives)," Doutt said. "The list is expansive.

"We need to have a framework in place if we're going to market Beachwood as a great place to do business."

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