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Want to open a new business in Flossmoor? Here’s how to apply for an economic incentive

Prospective Flossmoor business owners who want to ask the village board for financial incentives now have some ground rules for their application process.
At the Flossmoor village board’s July 2 meeting, trustees unanimously approved formal economic development policy guidelines in an effort to clarify what types of financial incentives it will consider and how applicants should prepare their requests.
“As the pace of economic development is increasing, it’s become necessary for us to have a policy, as opposed to just weighing things that come before us just ad-hoc, so to speak,” said Mayor Paul Braun at the meeting. “It can come to look like it’s some kind of arbitrary decision to grant incentives or not.”
The policy lists six specific incentives the village could potentially offer.
These incentives require no direct village expense, but would forfeit funds otherwise collected:
●     Reduced land costs on the purchase of land owned by the village.
●     Reduction of or waiver of building and development fees.
●     Sales tax-sharing agreements.
●     Support of Cook County property tax abatements (i.e. Class 8 incentives). 
These are incentives the village would extend funds to support:
●     Cost-sharing of public-private improvements such as sidewalk, water, sanitary and storm sewer.
●     Village “grants” to encourage specific upgrades such as façade improvements or green building techniques.
Also in the policy, the village includes 16 points of criteria trustees will use when evaluating requests for economic incentives.
These include the proposed business’s compatibility with the village’s long-term economic development goals, which include a focus on revenue diversification and use of vacant and blighted property; demonstrated reputation and probability of success; and enhancement of cultural and employment opportunities within the village.
Leading the list of criteria is the requirement that every applicant must prove that “but for” the economic incentive the business would not be able to occupy the particular property in Flossmoor. 
This provision elicited skepticism from Trustee James Mitros, who called it a potential “trick bag.”
“I don’t think we’ll ever have another business come to Flossmoor who doesn’t say, ‘but for an economic incentive, I will not locate here,’” Mitros said.
Village attorney Kathleen Field Orr explained that applicants must go through a careful and detailed process to prove a “but for” cause, which is often instigated by an extraordinary expense, such as a major infrastructure upgrade.
The policy document is intended for guidance and is not a blanket pass/fail instrument. Each application for a business-related economic incentive will continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis by the village board. Project spending will also continue to be prioritized the same way as well, said Village Manager Bridget Wachtel.
Village trustees welcomed the guidelines, with Trustee Phil Minga saying he’s been somewhat uncomfortable making decisions about economic incentives without a formal set of rules to follow.
Trustee Brian Driscoll said the policy is a tool trustees can reference when weighing the benefits and potential costs of a requested economic incentive. 
“Consider this a backdrop for your consideration,” Driscoll suggested to fellow trustees.

View the entire Flossmoor economic development policy guidelines. Click on item 4a.


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