Jul 31, 2007

Troutdale Enterprise Zone Work Session

I just got back from our city council work session regarding the joint Troutdale/Fairview Enterprise Zone (EZ). First, we decided that Fairview and Troutdale would each have their own criteria within the joint EZ.

Next, we covered four basic points:

1)Areas zoned industrial to be included in the two city Enterprise Zone:
In Troutdale, we're going to limit the EZ to just the old Reynolds Metals area. Which means no EZ for the pig farm property across the street from McMenamins Edgefield, and No EZ for the industrial land adjacent to Mt. Hood Community College (click here to see a map of the original proposed industrial lands considered for the EZ in Troutdale and Fairview).

2)Hotel/motel option inclusion or exclusion:
We decided to include this option.

3) Name for the two city joint application e.g. Troutdale-Fairview EZ:
We decided on a neutral name such as Cascade-Columbia EZ, or something along those lines.

4)EZ Manager:

There will be co-managers, one each for Fairview and Troutdale. The first year, we will probably contract with the city of Gresham to manage the new EZ

Next, we discussed Enterprise Zone Criteria that companies must meet in order to be eligible for tax abatement, as follows:
Minimum Investment:
We were all over the board here. There wasn't any agreement, except that we didn't have enough information to make a decision. Some wanted a $1 million minimum investment with a $75/SF minimum. Others wanted $100/sf minimum. City staff pointed out that the FEDEX's pure construction cost will come in at $53-57/sf, so a higher minimum than $50 is problematic if FEDEX is to meet this requirement. So city staff will be coming back to us with more information next time. I predict a battle with this item in the future.

First Source Agreement:
We'll probably go with the state-required minimums, but again, we wanted more information.

Procurement Plan:
Of course, we all want to see preference given to Troutdale or east county vendors. But we were undecided on details. Again, we wanted more specifics on what we could or could not require.

Job Quality:
Quite a bit of disagreement here. Some wanted a requirement of 75% of full time employees at 200% of minimum wage, plus benefits. Some wanted an average of all employees at 150% of minimum wage. According to the Port of Portland representative at the work session, FEDEX indicated that had a concern with e 200% minimum wage level for 75% of full time employees. No decision was made tonight. This will be a tough call. But personally, I would rather have a lot of jobs at 150% of minimum wage than no jobs at all.

Application Fee:
Surprise: We were unanimous on a .1% of the value of the investment.

Maximum Length of Tax Abatement:
The consensus (Actually, I counted a 5-2 split on this) was for only three years of tax abatement.

And that was that. Earlier tonight,we also had an executive session regarding negotiations for the road through the Chelsea property. I hope to have news on these negotiations within a month or two.(In a nutshell, Troutdale's urban renewal area is landlocked. We need to demolish a small section of the outlet mall in order to build a road through the existing Columbia Gorge Premium Outlet Mall. After the Troutdale city council voted last year to approve condemnation proceedings against Chelsea for the land needed for this road, the city and Chelsea began negotiating the terms and conditions for a "friendly" condemnation).

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