Last week’s inaugural Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) Intro Incentives webcourse was a success. I had the pleasure of serving as course advisor and working with CDFA to design a program to take participants through the fundamentals of incentive program management. During our two days, we heard from top-notch speakers addressing good practices in all phases of the incentive process, including:

Designing and deploying incentives

Setting goals, defining metrics for program performance and evaluation, and establishing guidelines for program use are the foundation of successful incentive use. We heard how one state and one county created new business-friendly incentive programs that also integrated implementation and evaluation elements during the design phase. Speakers also addressed principles for structuring good agreements with incentivized firms.

Data and analytics to reduce risk

Conducting due diligence and estimating economic and fiscal impacts to make sure incentivized projects meet established standards and to determine the estimated benefits for the community. Speakers described critical steps and tools they use to make these determinations during the incentives review process, as well as methods for connecting program metrics to broader community goals.

Compliance monitoring and program evaluation

Determining if projects and businesses fulfilled their commitments and assessing whether incentive programs are helping to achieve community goals. Speakers summarized key questions that should be answered during evaluations, reviewed methods for quantifying results, and offered advice on how to make findings more accessible to a broad audience.

New disclosure rules for tax abatements

Understanding the new guidelines on tax abatement disclosures that apply to state and local governments from the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). Speakers provided a thorough review of the disclosure standards and offered advice to economic and community development professionals on ways to prepare to comply with and respond to the disclosures.

Reporting and communication

Considering challenges around and ideas for sharing information about incentive activity from the government, public and business perspectives.

Innovative incentives approaches

Review of trends and program ideas related to incentives for manufacturing operations, to support workforce development, investments in start-ups, and for sustainability objectives. 

I look forward to continuing this partnership with CDFA to support economic and community development professionals working to manage incentive programs effectively and responsibly.