Business incentives, whether offered locally or through state programs, and their positive, long-term effects were the topic of conversation at Monday’s Sedalia City Council work session.
“There are a myriad of available options for incentives and really council has to give its blessing most of the time they’re used, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to run through some of the ones most seen in Sedalia and Pettis County,” said Community Development Director John Simmons.
Simmons and Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County Executive Director Linda Christle presented council with a shortened list of incentives that can help retain, expand to attract start-ups, small businesses, sole proprietor, LLC’s and corporations.
“Incentives are typically used to ‘bridge a gap’ to make development work in the community,” Simmons said. “And we want to remain competitive in the business market. Bringing new business or keeping an existing business that’s decided to expand says a lot about Sedalia and the community we have here.”
Locally, council may decide to allow for a fee waiver, such as a permit fee to inspect a building, which Christle said was a “soft cost gesture.”
“Waiving that simple fee can show a business you’re with them in this together,” she said. “It shows good faith.”
Other local incentives include a tax abatement program — guaranteeing property taxes are frozen for 10 years, for example — land donation, utility extensions, corporation assistance or grant programs, such as the Sedalia Downtown Development Inc. facade program.
“Most of these incentives are minimal cost to the city or the long term benefits outweigh the costs,” Simmons said.
“For example if there’s a company that wants to come in and build on a particular piece of land but it’s not in the city limits, we may ask you to approve its annexation and extend the sewer and water lines to the building. While it may cost us to extend a sewer line, that’s opens up an entirely new area for development.”
On the state level there are numerous business incentives available and Simmons and Christle trade off finding the best options available depending on the business type; Simmons primarily handles retail while Christle deals with the industrial and manufacturing base.
“Something we’re very proud we can offer is the Missouri Certified Sites Program,” Christle said. “For us that’s Thompson Meadows Industrial Park, which is a completely shovel-ready space. A company could come in and, if they’re approved for the program, potentially break ground in as little as 30 days because everything has been set and ready to go.
“I had a company call me last week looking for a location site and one of the requirements is that it be a certified site. It immediately puts us on the short list for a corporation looking to building quickly.”
Other state programs include Enhanced Enterprise Zones, industrial development bonds, Chapter 100 sales tax exemptions and the Missouri Quality Jobs Program. Simmons noted it can take anywhere from a week to more than three years from the time a business makes an inquiry into a possible incentive and its doors actually opening.
“It can be a long process, but it’s a beneficial one,” he said. “The reason for these incentives is so we can be competitive and bring businesses and jobs to Sedalia. We want to keep our community growing and this is a great way to do that.”