Northwood officials are considering a proposal to expand Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs) throughout most of the city as an economic development tool.
“We’re going to explore some changes to our CRAs,” said Councilman Dave Gallaher at a council meeting on Thursday. “We have a CRA on the east and west sides of town that primarily encompasses the commercial districts. We’re going to look at possibly including some property in the center of town that would actually at some time in the future connect both of those CRAs.”
Woodville Road in Northwood is designated as a CRA, as is an area around Wales, Oregon and Tracy roads, Gallaher, chairman of the economic development committee, said after the meeting.
“We would like to include Wales Road between Drouillard to East Broadway as a CRA,” said Gallaher. “We’re only a mile wide, and seven miles long. So if you have Oregon, Wales, and Woodville roads designated as a CRA, there’s nothing left.”
“It would pretty much encompass the entire town,” said Administrator Bob Anderson, “except for the extreme part of the city, near Ottawa County, which is mostly residential and farmland.”
A CRA provides an incentive in the form of tax breaks for businesses to expand or renovate existing buildings, or for the construction of new buildings.
“We’re just trying to create an atmosphere that has as much incentive as possible to attract new businesses,” said Gallaher.
The school district is not impacted by CRAs, said Anderson, and continues to get its share of property taxes.
“The city gives up the property taxes it would get on the improvements for up to 15 years. We benefit because we still get income taxes. So it’s good for the community. There are other incentives available through Wood County and the state. But the major tax incentive that the city can provide is through the Community Reinvestment Areas.”
Also under review is a plan to update the city’s website to make it more user friendly to businesses.
“It needs to provide more information to businesses looking in this area, and be easier to navigate,” said Gallaher. “There was a motion made at the committee level to have the administrator move forward with that and look at some improvements we could make.”
For instance, the website could provide a list of available properties and buildings, said Anderson.
“We would have a short description of them for anyone who is interested, then provide a link to our realtor,” said Anderson. It would help the city if we could get business going.”
He would like the website to be similar to that of Vandalia, Ohio at http://www.ci.vandalia.oh.us. The Vandalia website breaks down listings on a city map showing available office/commercial, industrial, office/industrial/warehouse, and retail/commercial properties. By clicking on the link, users can find out the square footage of a building, office space, and many other details.
“You can also get permits and other interactive things on that website,” he said. “I want information about our city, about our elected officials, people who work here, also on our website. When people visit it, I want them to think our website looks very professional.”
He is currently seeking quotes from companies to update the website.