Rocky Fork Enterprise

2007 Economic Development Plan

Leaders mull update to spark growth in revenue

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Gahanna's leaders are considering an update of the city's 2007 Economic Development Plan in an effort to fulfill revenue potential.

During a June 23 council committee meeting, development director Anthony Jones presented a case to update the plan as part of a sustainability planning effort the city has been working on during the past several months.

Jones said a plan was done in 2007, but that was a growth year like Gahanna hasn't since experienced.

"The goal of an updated plan would be to do market assessment," he said.

Jones said the plan would identify priority development areas, potential redevelopment areas, retention strategies and where the city could find the most return on investment.

"At the end of the day, it would provide a fiscal assessment of revenue potential," Jones said. "This would give a framework."

Council member Michael Schnetzer said the common thread about pursuing some sort of plan, whether it's a comprehensive plan or another, is that more revenue is needed in the city.

"We talk about what kind of city we want to be," he said. "At the end of the day, the crux of it is revenue. I think our priority should be on economic development to increase that revenue."

Jones said the original economic development plan was created to provide the city with two things: a fiscal impact model, which calculates the cost and benefit of real estate development projects, and a plan that summarized market conditions and made recommendations to attract jobs and capital investment.

To date, Jones said, the plan has been an instrumental part of the department's economic development activities.

He said the economic situation of Gahanna has changed since 2007, and the city is at a critical point in its growth cycle.

Gahanna quickly is approaching a built-out status, which limits the options available for future economic development, he said.

Jones said it's imperative for the community to have clear direction, in terms of promoting sustainable land development and maximizing revenue potential through attracting and retaining jobs.

He said the goal of what he calls the "Grow Gahanna Plan" would allow the city to have a detailed, action-oriented, measurable list of activities and investments to guide the city's policies to attract/retain jobs and capital investment.

In a written report to council, he said the Grow Gahanna Plan would provide the following:

• Office and industrial market analysis for the community, providing a realistic snapshot of the private investment opportunities available within the city. This would allow Gahanna to capitalize on existing market trends while providing information to position the city for long-term competitive advantages.

• Real estate development strategies for priority development areas, identifying locations that represent the most significant job-growth potential for the community.

• Business-retention strategies for the existing economic base. Jones said the expiration of the majority of the city's tax abatement is a significant contributing factor to the need to have a sophisticated and coordinated approach from multiple stakeholders to retain jobs.

• Fiscal assessment of the community's economic growth potential, allowing the community to understand the magnitude of economic and fiscal growth potential within existing territorial constraints.

"This assessment will help to provide realistic expectations on future revenue streams and in turn public service levels," Jones said.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said the plan update is something that could be started soon and finished in a reasonable time frame.

"I think this will be a practical, pragmatic plan," she said.

Schnetzer asked how long the plan would take.

"It really depends on the type of product we want," Jones said. "If we want business surveys, there's a time component. If we want public involvement, that's a longer time frame."

He said he didn't have an estimated dollar amount or time estimate because he wanted to make sure council was fully vested in the plan before pursuing it.

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