Jim Grabenhorst

Jim Grabenhorst

The Economic Development Advisory Board and the Rowlett City Council held a joint work session Tuesday night to go over some board activities and what they’re looking at going forward.

The board advises the council on economic development strategies that promote and foster private investments and job creation to ensure a sustainable business environment for the city.

Board Chairman Drew Howard reported that for the 2018-19 year they worked with Catalyst Commercial on developing an Economic Development Strategic Plan in concert with the citywide Strategic Plan. They also toured the Rockwall ISD Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy and the Baylor Scott and White Hospital expansion project where they met the new CEO, Donas Cole and the staff, and they participated in the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors Commercial Expo where 2,000 local commercial brokers were in attendance.

Howard said one of the things the advisory board does is review incentive packages, and that starts with an application.

Incentives are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the tools to help incentivize developers coming in include tax abatement, free waivers, infrastructure improvements, loans and grants, fast track city services, municipal management districts, triple Freeport tax exemption, tax increment reinvestment zone, and a 380 agreement.

If residents would like to find out more about this they can visit rowlettonthemove.com. There, residents can also find the financial transparency.

“There are only 14 cities in the state of Texas that have a transparency star for Economic Development. We were the fourth in the state to get all five stars,” said Jim Grabenhorst, director of Economic Development.

Howard presented the council with some short-term goals for 2019-20, which include the implementation of the ED Strategic Plan, continuing to pursue developers for North Shore and network with office brokers, participate in marketing events, expand the social media campaign for Realize Rowlett 2020 Focus Areas (North Shore), and discussion on dedicating a funding source for ED development.

Long term, the board would like to continue the implementation of the new ED strategic plan and updated comprehensive plan goals, discussion on plan for tourism, and implementation strategy for dedicated funding source for ED incentives.

“One thing about the Sapphire Bay development coming on board, that’s going to bring hotels and a lot of things that we typically have not had, and so there’ll be a lot of discussion going forth about tourism and how to create a tourism plan,” Howard said.

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