2015: TIF districts in Wichita hope to boost local economy

City of Wichita (KSN Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas — With slow growth projected for Wichita’s economy compared to the rest of the nation, it may come as no surprise that the city is taking things up a notch when it comes to tax incentives for businesses.

Tax Increment Financing districts, or TIFs, have become a growing trend in developing local economies across the country, including in Wichita.

“This is a trend you are seeing in development. There is a lot of risk, but the risk then just gets born on the developer,” said Jeremy Hill, the director at the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University.

Seven total economic development TIF projects are laid out in the city’s adopted 2015-2016 budget, including;

  1. East Bank
  2. 21st and Grove
  3. Old Town Cinema
  4. Northeast Redevelopment
  5. Center City
  6. Ken Mar, and
  7. Douglas and Hillside.

For an in-depth description of these TIF districts, as laid out in the approved budget, click here.

This list, however, does not include the redevelopment project plan at Wichita’s Union Station.

“Fortunately, we have not lost this and it’s going to be part of our identity as we go forward,” said Jeff Fluhr, the president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation.

The $54 million is still up for a public hearing.

KSN spoke with economic expert, Jeremy Hill, about the large number of TIF district projects in 2015. With so many TIF districts introduced at the same time, KSN wanted to know if there is reason for concern.

Experts say likely not.

“There are some costs and those costs will be born, you know, by people spending more, ultimately goes to consumers, but, I think it’s going to be fairly marginal, to any given consumer,” continued Hill. “When you look at a TIF, you need to look at the merits of that project itself to determine if there’s an overall economic value to the city and to the community.”

According to Wichita City Council’s agenda for January 6, councilors are set to recommend recessing the public hearing for the Union Station TIF project plan until January 13, 2015 at 9:00 a.m to allow more time for “finalization of negotiations.”

To read Tuesday’s council agenda in its entirety, click here. 

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