Going Beyond Tax Incentives: Methods to Attracting Business

Gail BryantUncategorized

This Economic Development Week, the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council is joining economic development organizations (EDOs) from across the country to celebrate the contribution that economic developers have on their community.

One of the top missions of an EDO is to attract new business and support the expansion of existing businesses in the community. While one effective and well-known tool to attract business is to advocate for tax incentives, it is certainly not the only method.

“While it can be a factor, most companies don’t base their decisions solely on what tax incentives they may get,” said Rick McDowell, President & CEO of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council. “For many companies, they may only build once or twice in the history of their business, so the stakes are high and they have to make sure that they are making decisions based on the long term implications, rather than saving money in the short term.”

Here are some other alternative methods that EDOs use for attraction.

  1. Establish a Strong Talent Pipeline

Businesses need a strong source of workers to help conduct the operations of the business, but finding a labor market that can meet the needs of an individual business can be challenging. Lee’s Summit is well-positioned to overcome the obstacle of a tight labor market due to its innovative approach to education. In Lee’s Summit, businesses and education have worked in collaboration for more than 20 years to ensure students are given real-world experience that prepares them to meet the industry demands as soon as they enter the workforce.

2. Invest in Certified Ready Sites

The Missouri Certified Ready Site program is intended to remove some of the front-end barriers to developing a site. Normally, in order for a businesses to begin building on a site, they must go through the process of setting up utility access, creating access to the site, meeting environmental protocols and more. By going through the Missouri Certified Ready process, communities meet those initial infrastructure requirements, making their sites more construction-ready for businesses and eliminating some of the risk for business.

3. Support a Good Quality of Life

Business owners want to be sure that the community they move their business to will have a good quality of life not only for their family, but also for the families of their employees. Some of the top factors that businesses consider are a high-performing school district, attainable housing, good infrastructure and transportation, quality health provider options and quality recreation and leisure activities.

“This hasn’t always been a consideration for businesses,” said McDowell. “But more and more, companies are realizing that choosing a location where their employees can thrive is good for business. Many of the factors that contribute to a good quality of life, such as good schools and transportation, also directly benefit the labor pool where they will find employees, so it’s a win-win.”

Of course, there are times when tax incentives are used, but it is never without weighing the benefit to the community as a whole, nor is it the only option. Economic Developers work closely with the city government and other community stakeholders to determine which tools best-serve each project and the citizens who will be impacted.