Economic Collaborative Task Force Established

A task force that would consist of up to nine members has been established by the Ann Arbor city council to reflect on “core values, priorities, and activities regarding economic development and identifying operations that may be duplicative, resources including funding, and opportunities for collaboration …” The task force will draw two or three members from the city of Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor SPARK and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.

The resolution, which the city council approved at its May 20, 2013 meeting, named the city’s representatives to the task force: city administrator Steve Powers, Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). Higgins and Petersen had sponsored the resolution. It had grown out of an idea to establish a task force to review the Ann Arbor DDA in the context of proposed changes to the city ordinance governing the DDA. Those changes, which would clarify existing language in the ordinance that limits the DDA’s tax increment finance capture, have been postponed by the council until Sept. 3.

In more detail, the task force is supposed to do the following:

  • Provide clarity, alignment and specificity on economic development policy and objectives for fiscal year 2014 toward accomplishing city council’s success statement for Economic Development.
  • Provide for strategic alignment of priorities between the Task Force member entities.
  • Highlight cost sharing and maximizing of resource utilization.
  • Identify options for sustaining, modifying, or eliminating operations in a financially-responsible manner through efficiencies and/or partnerships as part of a cohesive economic development plan for the city.

The “success statement” mentioned in the resolution was crafted by the city council at a budget retreat held in late 2012. At that retreat, economic development was identified as one of five priorities. The others where fiscal discipline, public safety, infrastructure and affordable housing. The problem and success statements for economic development were as follows:

What is the problem we are solving? Create tax revenue separate from the University of Michigan, and the need to further increase and diversify private sector employment in the local economy.

What does success look like?

  1. Creating diverse employment opportunities in various fields and industries.
  2. Ann Arbor has an earned reputation as an attractive place to create, relocate, and maintain businesses.
  3. Quality of life is maintained and improved.

The task force established at the council’s May 20 meeting is supposed to provide a report of findings and recommendations in December 2013. It’s possible that Higgins, as chair of the task force, might not be serving on the council at that time, because she faces a challenge from Jack Eaton in the Democratic primary election this August.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]