The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Handouts get new City Hall scrutiny: Council poised to decide on incentive for new office building

In Brian Fagan, City Hall, Monica Vernon on March 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm

The current City Council is going to some lengths to justify each and all incentives it awards to companies that want to build something new here.

In fact, the council is in the process of creating a new economic development policy that seeks to measure just what a proposed project brings in terms of adding to the tax base, creating jobs and contributing to smart growth in the community.

It so happens that Design Engineers, a growing local engineering company now located at 2801 Sixth St. SW, finds itself in something of what Jim Russell, one of the company owners, says is the role of guinea pig.

On Wednesday evening, the council is going to discuss anew and decide if it will provide Design Engineers a $530,000 incentive that the company says it needs to build a $5-million, two-story office in the Prairie View Technology Park along Interstate 380 at Wright Brothers Boulevard SW.

The incentive would come in a portion of the new property taxes the company would not have to pay for several  years on the new building.

Council member Monica Vernon has spoken in favor of the incentive. She has noted that the Prairie View Technology Park, which serves as a visible gateway to the city from the south, has been stalled for several years and has not added a structure since the Howard R. Green Co. built the park’s first building earlier in the decade.

Vernon said the park is “a strategic spot in our community” that has the potential to remind those who live here and who are visiting here that Cedar Rapids is on the move.

“I know we like to look at dollars and cents,” Vernon has said. “But what inspires people?”

Council member Brian Fagan has agreed that momentum at the tech park needs some refueling.

The question, he has said, is how much refueling.

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  1. It doesn’t surprise me that Council member Vernon supports this special gift. Her election to the Council was the result of Big Money Special Interests buying her seat with Big Contributions. I don’t see a huge number of jobs being created with this project. Normally this has always been a requirement. There was some very vocal opposition to this project at Council member’s Weineke District meeting a couple weeks ago at Hoover School. It appears the Taxpayers of Cedar Rapids will be spending millions of tax dollars over the next few years for some very questionable projects.

  2. Why,oh why does some of the City Council feel that we have so much money that we can look at giving everyone incentives to build even if it’s not going to offer more jobs,or not enough jobs to do any good.Monica is still thinking too much the way that she thought while with the Chamber of Commerce.I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,the Chamber of Commerce nor Visitor’s Bureau does not run this city,the taxpayers are suppose to be able to have their say and the people in City Hall need to start listening to us and doing what we want.Contrary to belief,by some,this is still a democracy.

  3. I don’t see a problem giving incentives to companies wanting to build in our community. However, it should be tied to solid employment growth with timelines.

  4. “Tied to solid employment growth with timelines” and “Companies wanting to build in our community” …. I agree.

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