SYRACUSE — Call it a modified do over, but city officials have voted to create a new economic development area near Syracuse High School, with a specific emphasis on 77 acres on the city’s eastern border with Clearfield.
Council members held a special work session, then a Redevelopment Agency meeting and then a council meeting on one issue Tuesday: to address the project area.
The council voted 3-2 to create an EDA in a 187-acre area near the high school, and recommended only 77 acres in the easternmost part of the zone be included in a tax increment collection area.
Councilmen Craig Johnson and Brian Duncan voted against the proposal. Just last week a version of the EDA plan died for lack of a second in an RDA meeting.
The vote finalized a night of odd votes related to the issue. In the RDA meeting before the special council session, the economic development area plan for the region was approved 3-1, with Duncan abstaining. In going to the regular session, Councilwoman Karianne Lisonbee made a motion to limit the economic development area to only the 77-acre area east of the power line. That was defeated, 3-2, before she opted to vote for the measure approved by the RDA in the final vote.
The 77 acres are zoned industrial, and Ninigret Group LC, has already initiated action to develop the area. The new zone will make tax incentives available to the developer.
City officials spent more than two hours going over the specific application of an economic development area and a possible commercial development area, as well as the budget outline for the economic development area, related to the Ninigret project.
The $9 million budget related to the economic development area project includes $3 million in what is termed tenant outreach, but translates in potential incentives to would-be clients or tenants.
Johnson worried that an economic development area offered too many incentives to business and wondered where to draw the line, while Duncan worried about creating an economic development area in a region where he hopes the emphasis will be on commercial and not industrial growth.
The newly created areas were described as economic development tools, needed to attract high quality companies and business to the city by Jeff Edwards, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Corporation of Utah. He said without the incentives, the businesses will not come.
“As you think about that (the incentives), look at them as tools you can use, rather than looking at it as a necessary evil. Look at it as a tool to bring in quality,” Edwards said.
Susan Becker of Zions Bank has worked with economic development tools for 20 years and said Syracuse won’t be able to compete on a level playing field with its neighbors, without some of the special zones.
Councilman Larry Shingleton maintained there was little risk to extending the EDA close to the high school, because city officials still have other tools in place to control what kind of business comes to the region.