Ravalli County Commissioners unanimously approved work on the development of a targeted economic development district (TEDD). Targeted economic development districts have streamlined the statutes that create industrial, aerospace, and technology tax increment financing districts.
One of the benefits to the district underway in Ravalli County is that it provides a locally driven economic development resource for funding public infrastructure projects. It also demonstrates a well-defined plan for economic growth and provides predictability for business to occur by providing appropriate space for industrial businesses, technology businesses, education, and new residential development to occur. Another benefit is catalyzing opportunities for local government – public/private partnerships.
The Commissioners have been engaged with the idea of tax increment financing and the above mentioned benefits for some time. The public/private partnerships are already taking place. Project funding will come from private land owners, the Mildenberger and Bessenyey families, along with state and local funds. The Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors has been successful in obtaining a grant from the National Association of Realtors and will provide the funding for the public outreach segment of the project.
The first steps will include meetings where the public will be welcome and a preliminary engineering report to ascertain the cost and feasibility of water and wastewater access for the area. The second step will be the actual planning and development of the targeted economic development district.
Providing a location in Ravalli County where light industrial and technology companies have the infrastructure necessary to open their doors is an important component to more and better paying jobs being available in the community. Other potential benefits to the creation of this district include the donation of land to the University of Montana for a future campus for the Bitterroot College and walking and bike trails that will connect these areas to downtown Hamilton.
Despite the name “tax increment financing,” the district does not increase taxes nor does it create any new tax. The district does allow taxes paid on new development to be directed by the local government to help pay for expensive infrastructure such as water, sewer, roads, and internet (not an all inclusive list), the very basics of what a businesses starting up or expanding needs.
In 2009/2010, Ravalli County was a financial partner to the Town of Stevensville’s successful Light Industrial Tax Increment Financing District where a $1 million wastewater project is now underway.