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joeDowntown

Incentives for moving businesses Downtown

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I think everyone here agrees that landing large (or even small but growing) companies downtown would help spur growth. Are there currently any incentives in place to lure companies that may be in the suburbs now, but are looking to expand? I seems like if there were some incentives in place (be it infrastructure (IT), tax breaks, etc.) it might help companies re-think their growth strategy.

Joe

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... Lower Taxes?

I do like Ann Arbor's system, or at least what I've heard of it.

They give breaks in zoning requirements for providing community incentives.

example: waving parking requirements or allowing for greater heights in exchange for affordable housing units (as opposed to requiring them).

It's basically replacing standards with a market system. A developer can choose not to build the affordable housing units but they don't get the benefits of reduced zoning regulations, etc. Providing a base standard tax system that low enough to attract attention, but high enough to encourage business to look into what incentives they can afford to look into.

Obviously it's more complicated than that vis a vis a cycle of talented people following jobs following talanted people following amenities... I think Grand Rapids is well on its way to achieving that critical mass.

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The income tax in the city is a deterrant to small businesses locating in GR. The Rennaisance Zones are a great counteraction to the deterrent, but I still think the city needs to find a way to abolish the income tax and replace that revenue with something else (I don't know what, and I recognize that's a difficult proposition). A small startup, barely breaking even really feels that 1% when paychecks are small to begin with. An established company minds less, but people still hate it. Every person I've hired from outside the area to work for me here in GR complains about the income tax. Every single one.

Tracer's depiction of the Ann Arbor system sure is interesting. I really like that idea.

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I've actually stated before I wouldn't mind taking the income tax if I worked in GR city limits. I pretty much get paid near minimum wage, about $200 a week. That's $2 a week. Oh no, one less hot dog I can buy myself at the Dog Pit. Not the end of the world.

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I've actually stated before I wouldn't mind taking the income tax if I worked in GR city limits. I pretty much get paid near minimum wage, about $200 a week. That's $2 a week. Oh no, one less hot dog I can buy myself at the Dog Pit. Not the end of the world.

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Nah the Chicagos are the best. After having one of those I simply can't eat a dog without celery salt now.

Perhaps business owners should start finding ways to inform their employees of the good of a city income tax?

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Hmmm, sounds like a job for mass transit! :P

If you have 20 employees, that's $2000 - $3000/month just in parking. Whether paid for by the business owner or not, it's still a cost. That's almost as much as health insurance premiums.

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Perhaps business owners should start finding ways to inform their employees of the good of a city income tax?

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The problem with those MiGuyz is that the Brownfield, Building Reuse and Areaway programs only apply to building owners, and they really only help on building restorations. There is no kind of incentive program given to business owners who lease space downtown, in a new building or a renovation, as far as I know. In fact, with city income tax and $100 - 150/month in parking for each of its employees, there are a lot of disincentives. If you have 20 employees, that's $2000 - $3000/month just in parking. Whether paid for by the business owner or not, it's still a cost. That's almost as much as health insurance premiums.

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I'm not sure what percentage of health insurance premiums are generally paid by employers in West Michigan, but the per person cost of such premiums are well above 100-150/month. Ours are $400-900 per employee per month (depending on their marital status and whether they have kids).

Regardless, your point is valid....it costs more to be downtown. Sometimes dramatically more.

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Yeah, I was speaking more from the employees' position. And when you're talking to new hires, cost of parking has to go somewhere in the equation: either a benefit picked up by the employer, or a cost to the employee. Speaking from personal experience, that discussion goes something like: Yes, you have to pay for your own parking....and it's outside.....4 blocks from our building.....yes we know it's freezing outside in the morning 6 months a year.....or you can drive around a try to find a free (but not illegal) space somewhere closer.

How long till we get light rail again?

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I find the income tax argument to be weak at best. My partners argued with me about this when we moved nearer to downtown.

I would say however, that since moving nearer to downtown and up-playing our committment to the city, we have seen gains. There are a lot of business owners out there that have the same feelings about bolstering the city. Even better, the costs near downtown are actually some of the lowest in the area in terms of office space and the location is hard to beat for a service based company.

That being said, I would love to see some incentives that would give me a reason to locate here permanently when we start plans for a new facility in the next few years. Being downtown can be a huge image boost for any company.

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I agree. It's great to be able to walk to client meetings instead of driving 20 minutes each way. I've also started commuting by bike, so if anyone wants to sublease my parking pass we should talk. :)

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