Kokomo City Hall

Kokomo City Hall is shown on July 2, 2019.

The city of Kokomo is seeking to establish a new tax increment financing (TIF) district for the future industrial park targeted for the city’s far northeast side.

The Kokomo Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday approved a declaratory resolution to establish a new TIF district of 142 acres of land adjacent to Indiana 931 and just south of County Road East 300 North and the Stellantis Kokomo Engine Plant.

The land is the target for the first phase of an industrial park that the city, county and Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance plan on using to attract new businesses — not only in the auto industry, but also other non-durable goods manufacturers.

Officials hope the industrial park would make the city’s and county’s financial and workforce health less dependent on how well Stellantis is performing.

“I’d like to see us be able to compete with some projects in the non-durable goods because they don’t necessarily get impacted as strongly when there’s an economic downturn,” said Charlie Sparks, president and CEO of the Alliance. “I think that would help diversify our economy and soften the blow during an economic downturn. ... I’d like to see us less dependent on Chrysler, not because of less Chrysler, but because we’re able to attract other employers.”

The Redevelopment Commission’s approval of the declaratory resolution is just the first hurdle in a multi-step process before the TIF is formally approved.

The resolution will head to the Kokomo Plan Commission next week, where the board will decide whether or not the TIF district conforms to the city’s comprehensive plan. Then, the Kokomo City Council will vote on the resolution. If it passes the City Council, it will then go back to the Redevelopment Commission for a public hearing and a final vote.

A TIF district is a type of economic tool where property tax revenue on new assessed value is captured for reinvestment in the TIF area for the life of the TIF district instead of going to public entities, such as the city, county, schools and libraries.

The creation of the industrial park has been a focus for the Alliance for years, but it has now become a top priority for the city under Mayor Tyler Moore’s administration.

Sparks said the Alliance sees leads for companies that could locate to Kokomo, but the lack of developable, shovel-ready sites has hampered the city’s ability to attract them.

“If you don’t have control over the property and don’t have the utilities in place, companies aren’t going to sit back and wait for us to do that,” Sparks said.

To do just that, the city is prepared to spend millions.

On Tuesday, the Redevelopment Commission also approved a resolution allowing TIF funds from the city’s consolidated TIF No. 6 — which includes the Stellantis Kokomo Transmission Plant and Casting Plant, the General Motors Components Holding plant, BorgWarner and the city’s downtown — to go toward acquiring the property and utilities and infrastructure.

Acquisition of the land is expected to cost the city upwards of $2 million and be completed by the end of the year, said Jennifer Jordan, director of development for the city.

An additional $11 million in TIF funds is earmarked for installation of gas, electric, roads and wastewater to be built on the 142 acres of land.

That figure could be decreased by as much as $5 million, depending on how much — if any — of the requested $5 million in READI funds the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council receives.

As previously reported by the Tribune, the NCIRPC — which consists of officials from Howard, Tipton, Miami, Cass, Clinton and Fulton counties — submitted a seven-project proposal to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation seeking $50 million in READI grants to help complete the projects, one of which is the industrial park. The IEDC will choose what projects to help fund by the end of the year.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.

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