Aspire Conducts Economic Development Workshop for Local Officials

By Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance | | 12.14.20

Elected and appointed officials from across Johnson County recently participated in an invitation-only virtual workshop on economic development hosted by Aspire Economic Development + Chamber Alliance. Local government entities participating were Johnson County, Bargersville, Franklin and Greenwood. Altogether nearly 50 persons participated, including Aspire board and council governance leaders.

“Aspire organized this workshop to provide our elected and appointed community leaders the opportunity to understand how our incentive tools work in Indiana and how they affect our communities,” explained Aspire Vice President of Economic Development Amanda Rubadue, who directed the event. “We wanted to make sure they had the opportunity to learn from and ask questions of some of the other players active in economic development. The more our leaders understand how the tools available to them work, the more we can partner with them to attract better jobs and high caliber companies to Johnson County.”

“Each of our communities in Johnson County have different assets, desires and flavors, if you will. Our hope with this training was participants would hear the speakers through the lens of their community, considering those assets and desires already embedded in their community,” Rubadue added.

Presenting sponsor of the workshop was Duke Energy.

Michael Williams, who represents District 3 on the Greenwood Common Council, attended the workshop and noted, “The event was well thought out and informative. It helped me better understand the economic development toolbox so we can more effectively offer incentives that will bring Greenwood to the top of the list.” Williams added that he now has a better understanding of tax increment financing (TIFs) and tax abatements. “It’s good to be able to have different ways to explain these incentives so prospects will better understand them.”

Susie Qualls, a member of the Bargersville Town Council, noted, “I found the workshop to be very informative and helpful. Bargersville is at a pivotal point for economic growth. The workshop identified a number of resources available to us to help make us a stronger community. I look forward to the opportunity to partner with other communities within Johnson County and the entire Aspire group in the future.”

Participants heard from a site selector who has experience all over the country, Leslie Wagner, senior partner at the Ginovus economic development agency. Wagner discussed how site selectors work with companies that are considering relocation or expansion, and how Indiana communities can stay top of mind. She stressed the importance of understanding a company’s plans to expand or relocate and its drivers, timelines, budget and deliverables.

Indiana municipal tax and incentives expert James P. Higgins, partner at LWG CPAs and Advisors, gave an overview of TIFs, tax abatement and tax levies. Higgins discussed property taxes, gave examples of assessments, and delved into rates and levies, property tax caps and circuit breaker credits, maximum levy limitations and the local budgeting process.

In addition, Jim Staton, senior vice president – domestic and international at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), provided an overview of how the state works with local economic development organizations to market and incentivize new growth in Indiana communities. Staton is director of the IEDC Central Region, where he collaborates with local economic development officials in 33 Central Indiana counties.

“We are grateful that our local officials took the time and interest to attend this training,” concluded Rubadue, “and that our presenters were willing to share their experience and expertise on the important topic of economic development.”