A minimum 45-day public comment period for the Wyoming Business Council’s proposed Business Ready Community (BRC) rule changes starts July 13, 2015.
The state economic development agency’s BRC program provides financing for publicly owned infrastructure that serves the needs of businesses and promotes economic development within Wyoming communities. Cities, towns, counties, joint powers boards and the Wind River Indian Reservation tribes are eligible to apply for funding.
The Business Council designed the draft rule changes to make the program more accessible, simpler to use, more sustainable and to improve accountability.
The 2014 Wyoming Legislature created the Legislative Joint Subcommittee on Economic Development to review the BRC program. The subcommittee discussed sustainability of the program, revenue recapture, viability of local economic development organizations, ownership of BRC-funded assets and more.
“Revisiting BRC rules 13 years into the program is a kind of policy check,” Business Council Chief Executive Officer Shawn Reese said. “It is a healthy, inclusive exercise. Business Council staff held discussions with the Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors, the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and the Wyoming Economic Development Association. We want to hear from the public, as well.”
Highlights of the draft changes include:
- Match. Current match requirements are complex and do not take into account the applicant’s match capacity. Proposed changes base the match on total project cost and create a Category 1 (communities with 4,000-plus populations) and a Category 2 (communities with less than 4,000 populations). Category 1 communities would match 10 percent of total project cost for Business Committed, Community Readiness and Downtown Development grants. Category 2 communities would match 5 percent for each of the categories.
- Revenue Recapture. Revenue recapture efforts are inconsistent. Proposed changes call for a minimum 50 percent of all net revenue generated from BRC grant-funded infrastructure be recaptured back to the Business Council, with the other 50 percent to the grantee. This would apply to revenue-generating projects such as building leases and land sales.
- Projects with Private Developers. Revenue recapture for private developments have a higher public benefits threshold but vary by project type. Proposed changes require private developers demonstrate the projected economic impacts are at least as great as the BRC grant assistance. Benefits may be demonstrated through repayment of grant funds, direct jobs created, projected tax benefits and/or donation of real estate that is not otherwise necessary for the project.
- Loans. Loans lack consistency. The proposed changes call for a floor of zero percent for non-revenue-generating projects and 1 percent for revenue-generating projects. All loans would include an annual servicing fee of 0.5 percent, not to exceed $5,000. No match is required on loans. Additionally, loans may be non-recourse.
- Community Development. The BRC program allows for child care and senior care projects, but there is not significant demand for these types of projects. The proposed changes create a new category of community development projects that would include, but not be limited to, child care, senior care and community centers.
- Downtown Development. Downtown development projects are limited to a $2 million maximum grant. The proposed changes would allow for a $3 million maximum, recognizing the rising costs of rehabilitation projects.
CLICK HERE to read an overview of the proposed BRC rule changes. The comment period ends at 5 p.m. on Aug. 31, 2015. Email comments to Business Ready Community Program Manager Julie Kozlowski at email@example.com. Mail comments to Wyoming Business Council, c/o Julie Kozlowski, 214 W. 15th St., Cheyenne, WY 82002. For more information, contact Kozlowski at 307-777-2812.
About the Wyoming Business Council. Our mission is to increase Wyoming’s prosperity. We envision a Wyoming where industries are strong, diverse and expanding. Small business is a big deal. Communities have the highest quality of life. Wyoming is the technology center of the High Plains. Wyoming knows no boundaries. Please go to www.wyomingbusiness.org for more information.
CLICK BELOW to read an overview of the proposed BRC rule changes.