General Authority: A New Economic Development “Vehicle” for Adams County

Aerial photo, Adams Commerce Park

This article was originally published in the Gettysburg Times, June 9, 2016.

By Robin Fitzpatrick

There are now three avenues through which economic development—and bank qualified lending—can take place in Adams County. I like the word “avenue” because it describes a two-way flow, of traffic and conversation, that occurs during economic development projects. Similarly, Sam Wiser of Salzmann Hughes says, “There’s now an additional economic development vehicle in Adams County.” Whether you use the word vehicle or avenue, both words imply that Adams County is on the map and on the road to a brighter future!

The creation of the Adams County General Authority (GA) is the new avenue or vehicle that we’re talking about. Let’s take a look at how and why this entity came about.

ACEDC was founded in 1988 after the Batelle Study identified a need for formalized economic development in Adams County. Our mission was established—to assist businesses with their needs for lending, site selection, expansion, employment, etc.

Also in 1998, the ACEDC board requested that the County of Adams create an Industrial Development Authority (IDA) through which tax exempt financing could become an option for new and existing businesses, with a focus on manufacturing. This allowed the staff of the EDC to provide a full spectrum of economic development services.

Businesses with existing tax exempt bonds can consider refinancing their facilities because of unusually low interest rates. All of that is good news and has a positive impact on the business community.  It’s good for employees as well.  When a company doesn’t have to pay as much to borrow money, cash flow is better and so are wages!

Why a new organization? Does this community really need yet another one? Aren’t we trying to consolidate what we have? Blame it on the IRS.

The Internal Revenue Service will allow a certain amount of money to be loaned at a tax exempt rate. It spurs business growth which results in a broader tax base, better wages, more income tax, etc. But too much of this type of lending will create the opposite effect.

Each state, and each county within each state, is allowed to issue $10 million in bank qualified tax exempt lending. For years, this has been more than enough to fund business growth in Adams County. But because of today’s lending environment, businesses are trying to capitalize (pun intended) on the favorable interest rates by refinancing and even increasing the borrowing for additional needs that might have been planned for the future or over a period of time.

Sure, we can provide this service to whomever is first in the door or we can evaluate the projects by value to the community. Or we can do both. The Board of Commissioners asked how they could make this option available to more businesses. It was through their own research that the idea of a creating a General Authority was conceived.

The bottom line: by creating the new General Authority, Adams County businesses will have another $10 million available for tax exempt lending.

Does this mean that the County of Adams will be responsible for more debt? The IDA and GA do not commit the county or any other municipality (or their tax payers) to the debt. The Authority is the issuer, or administrator, keeping track of the lending in the County and making certain that the guidelines and policies are followed.

By expanding our lending limit, no one is required to pick winners or losers—everyone wins. A new avenue, or vehicle, increases cash flow into, and throughout the county, which is certainly a victory for all.

Robin Fitzpatrick serves as President of ACEDC and can be reached at 717-334-0042, ext. 1. For additional information, see acedc.org, and follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter for the latest Adams County business news.

 

 

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