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Op-ed: Tax credits have sparked development in Utah

First Published      Last Updated Aug 07 2016 08:30 am

Many years ago in her seminal work, the "Death and Life of Great American Cities," Jane Jacobs in an effort to kindle a movement that she hoped would stem the tide of accelerating urban decline, confronted the cannons of "orthodox planning", and proclaimed; "cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created for everybody."

Now, a half century later, the National Development Council (NDC) still subscribes to the fundamental principal that successful economic revitalization can only be achieved when investment decisions include programs and projects that are designed to benefit all residents, but most specifically, benefit the poorest residents of the community.




As president of the nonprofit community and economic development organization, NDC, I am fortunate to work with talented staff and partners across the nation to promote the creation of Homes, Jobs and Community. NDC, like many of our local partners, funds projects in Salt Lake City and in rural and urban communities across the country that focus on job creation, affordable housing and social infrastructure.

We accomplish this using federal tools such as Small Business Administration loans, New Market Tax Credits (NMTC), Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), Historic Preservation Tax Credits (HTC), Renewable Energy Tax Credits (RETC) HUD Section 108 Loans, USDA Rural Housing and Economic Development Programs and Tax-Exempt bond financing.

Unfortunately, the market-driven financing equation that supports project finance is out of balance in low income communities. The fact that cost is always greater than value necessitates the need for federal programs, such as those mentioned above. These loans, grants and tax incentives have proven to be the only financing available to build communities for everybody. Recently, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, co-sponsored legislation that will expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). The LIHTC program provides Federal Investment Tax Credits to private investors to finance the development of affordable housing. The LIHTC program accounts for approximately 90 percent of all affordable rental housing created in the US each year.

Similarly, both as president of NDC, and current president of the NMTC Coalition, I have witnessed first-hand what increasing the flow of capital to low-income communities accomplishes. One needs to look no further than the redevelopment in Salt Lake City over the past 12 years to see the tangible impact of these credits.

The Capitol Theater renovation in downtown was funded, in part, by a $8 million NMTC Qualified Investment. One of the largest solar installations in Utah, the Salt Lake County Solar Facilities, was also funded with a $7 million NMTC investment. The rooftop solar array provides the convention center with up to 17 percent of its energy. The Magna Library is part of the community of Magna's plan to revitalize their Main Street. The $8.2 million NMTC investment acted as a catalyst for future neighborhood revitalization. These projects, have had a significant positive impact on job creation, and could not have moved forward in the manner and time in which they did, but for the NMTC funding.

The Greater Salt Lake Development Corporation (GSLDC) is NDC's $10 million loan fund in partnership with Morgan Stanley, Synchrony and Zions Bank. Funded projects include the expansion of the Red Iguana II Restaurant, the adaptive reuse of a vacant urban warehouse to house Atmosphere Studios, an exhibition design build company.

To build communities for everybody, we must continue to support proven federal programs like NMTC and LIHTC. Hatch has supported measures to ensure these tools continue to be available for communities in need of revitalization and affordable housing, supporting the PATH Act in December 2015, which extended both credits.

Robert W. Davenport was recently elected President of the New Market Tax Credit Coalition, a national organization. He has served as the president of the National Development Council (NDC) since 1986.

 

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