Results from the ICMA 2014 Economic Development Survey of local governments include several findings on incentive use at the local level.

  • 61% report the dollar value of the average incentive package is about the same as it has been over the last five years. 23% state that the average value is larger or much larger.

  • The top “high use” incentives are:
    • zoning permit assistance
    • one-stop permit issuance

  • Beyond these, the top incentives used are: 
    • infrastructure improvements
    • tax abatements
    • grants
    • tax increment financing

  • 56% report that a performance agreement is a condition for providing business incentives, but 17% report it never is.

  • 73% perform a cost-benefit analysis prior to offering business incentives.

  • 75% state they measure the effectiveness of business incentives, with the top measures being jobs created, increase in the tax base, and “investment in construction materials and labor.”

  • 58% report that their local government uses clawback agreements.


The survey was sent (via mail) to 5,237 city and county governments in June 2014. An online survey was also available. 1,201 local governments responded, for a response rate of 23%. A copy of the results is available online here.