City Seeks Proposals For Expanded Ren Zone

June 5, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The city hopes to expand the Renaissance Zone two more times this year and is encouraging individuals, businesses and developers to submit proposals for adding properties to the zone.

The city’s Renaissance Zone, established in 1997, consists of 536 acres spread over six areas. It’s one of 11 Renaissance Zones in the state.

The continuing goal is to attract and retain business by stimulating private investment in the reuse of contaminated, vacant and underused properties, thereby creating new jobs. A major incentive in locating in a Renaissance Zone is that businesses can waive virtually all state and local taxes up to 2012.

To provide that incentive, the city gives up some $530,000 in annual tax revenue.

The city has the opportunity to add parcels adjacent to the existing zone, as well as add four completely new areas, said Susan Shannon, the city’s business advocate.

The city will evaluate proposals based on established criteria, including the amount of investment, number of jobs retained or created, and the project’s potential for enhancing an area of the city.

This go-round, the city is requiring that successful applicants enter into a development agreement, committing to their proposed investment and job creation objectives and posting a performance bond, or similar performance guarantee, to back them up.

Taxes to be abated also have to fall within the city’s cap on tax loss. According to the city, a project’s cap capacity will be determined by calculating the difference between property tax loss and income tax to be generated from newly created jobs.

Proposals must be submitted no later than April 14 to be considered for designations effective Jan. 1, 2002 and no later than Sept. 14 to be considered for designations effective Jan. 1, 2003.

Recommended proposals will be forwarded to the state for final approval.

Of 22 proposals received for Renaissance Zone expansion last year, the city added five projects, Shannon noted. The city saw nearly $26.4 million in additional new investment in the zone in 2000.

To date, businesses and developers have invested $106 million in the zone and created upwards of 700 new jobs. The program runs through 2011.

Questions can be directed to the city’s Economic Development Office at 456-3431.

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