On Monday, January 11, City Planner Rob Pierce presented a proposal designed to spur economic development in the Greater Milford Business Park. The Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) emphasizes job creation and overall private investment. The program would be offered to businesses interested in purchasing land in the business park.
“The goal is to provide incentives to businesses who want to expand into Milford,” Mr. Pierce explained. “The incentives are tied to job creation and we are only looking at doing this in the business park right now as a pilot program. We may expand this to Independence Commons and other areas of the town, but we want to see how well it works in the business park first.”
The EDIP would waive water and sewer impact fees as well as other permits and fees for a number of years determined by the number of jobs the new company would create. A company that would create five to nine jobs would have water and sewer impact fees waived for one year and receive a 20 percent reduction in other fees. A company that created 10 to 14 jobs would have water and sewer impact fees waived for two years and receive a 40 percent reduction in other fees. For 15 to 19 jobs, the fee waivers are for three years and other fees reduced by 60 percent while creation of 20 to 24 jobs would result in waived water and sewer fees for four years and 80 percent reduction in other fees. A company that created 25 to 29 jobs would have water and sewer impact fees waived for five years and all other fees would be waived while a company that created more than 30 days would not pay any fees, including water and sewer or other permits and fees. The company would have to agree to have their job creation audited over a five-year period to confirm that the number of jobs they said they would create were actually created.
A full-time employee would be counted as one added job, while two part-time employees would be counted as one job. If the employment level falls below the level stated in the contract calculated over a three-year average, the city would have the right to terminate the contract. At that time, the buyer would surrender improvements on the property to the city or pay the remaining balance of the contract to the city in exchange for the title to the property.
“We want to be competitive,” Mayor Bryan Shupe said. “We need to remember that businesses are not just looking at Milford. This is a tool we can use as an incentive to encourage businesses who will employ local citizens to locate here.” Mr. Pierce said that terms can be modified depending on the company that was looking to purchase land in the business park.
Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said that she wanted to be sure that the incentives were applied fairly and was concerned that the fee waivers may be a problem in the future. She commented that she did not want to “give away grandfather’s farm,” questioning whether the incentives were too generous. Mr. Pierce said that the land would not be given away, but that certain fees could be waived as a cost savings to a company who was creating jobs in the area.
“Why are we just limiting this to the industrial park?” Councilwoman Lisa Peele asked. “I understand a pilot program, but why not expand this to Independence Commons or other parts of Milford.” Mr. Pierce explained that the city may consider expanding the incentives to Independence Commons if they are successful in the business park, but that they would need to be adjusted for the downtown area in light of the recently released Downtown Master Plan.
The EDIP was presented to council for their review and will be voted on at a future meeting. Council voted to approve payment to Masten Realty to have the remaining lots in the Business Park and Independence Commons appraised.