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March 11, 2014

Gray unveils economic plan

(Continued)

The guidelines themselves will serve to let businesses looking to expand know in what circumstances they would receive an incentive and what they would have to deliver to the city in return.

“This enables potential developers to talk to us with serious proposals,” Gray said. “Because they know this is a path to get over some of the site construction, like a road cut for example. But let’s say you have got an old mill building that needs substantial improvements, you may have multi-tenants and you have to improve the building. This is a way to help make the development economically viable.”

Each case will have to go before the mayor and the City Council to meet the guidelines. Marked as the preferred locations for economic incentives are the downtown, the Route 110 industrial zone, South Hunt Road, Industrial Way and Munroe Street, the so-called “Golden Triangle” that connects I-495 with I-95, as well as commercially or industrially zoned parcels and areas.

“Somebody with a difficult site may decide to put it into warehousing because you don’t want to make a lot of investment,” Scott said. “Take that same site and work with them on an incentive and suddenly you’ve got a use that is far more valuable and has a better benefit for the community.”

Once the report is presented to the council, workshops will be held during the Ordinance and Finance Committee meetings over the next two weeks as the process moves forward. Gray said that he sees the incentive strategy as a chance to bridge two of his main priorities — economic development and bringing the city together after a contentious election.

“We are trying to provide, up front, as much information as we can,” Gray said. “So all the stake holders can make reasonable judgements as to whether this process and this program will benefit the city. I’m looking forward to working cooperatively with the council on this as the beginning of many initiatives. This is one important part of the process. I look forward to this becoming more of a normal part of the process.”

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