Grow and attract a diverse mixture of businesses and develop a highly skilled, well-educated, and creative workforce to foster employment opportunities for residents and improve the economic vitality of the City.
- In Progress
Ensure opportunities for diverse commercial and industrial business development exist by advertising available sites and long-range planning efforts.
One of the first steps in attracting new businesses to the community is ensuring developable parcels exist to house them. The future land use plan identifies potential locations for future industrial, commercial, and mixed use development and redevelopment. The City should share the future land use plan and additional long-range planning efforts with property owners and site developers to ensure they are aware of planned city investments and development priorities.
Create a business incubator/innovation center to develop entrepreneurial talent, enhance opportunities for collaboration, and offer flexible office space options to help grow successful businesses in the community.
Sustaining long-term economic growth in the community comes from fostering the development of ideas and creation of new businesses from existing City assets. A business incubator/innovation center may include both a coworking space and small, flexible office spaces for start-up businesses. Coworking spaces can host a variety of entrepreneurs and small businesses and typically include an open work space with a variety of work stations as well as breakout or conference rooms. Coworking spaces can host special events, networking opportunities, and casual meet ups. In addition to the coworking space, it can be beneficial to offer individual, small office spaces with short term leases. As companies succeed and grow out of the coworking space they may want a more private office space. However, these companies are still considered start-ups and can’t provide the assurance for long-term office leases. They may quickly outgrow an office space or they may shift focus or have to contract back into a coworking space.
Promote and expand the microloan program in conjunction with Boone County EDC.
The current Boone County EDC microloan program provides small-scale, low interest loans in amounts ranging from $1,000 – $15,000. These loans are used to support start-ups and small businesses in conjunction with other investments. They are generally used for specific equipment or facility improvements; they can’t be used for payroll or general operating expenses. The City of Lebanon should work with the Boone County EDC to expand funding for and use of the microloan program in alignment with the City’s economic development goals. This program should be marketed towards entrepreneurs as they grow out of the innovation center or other coworking and start-up spaces.
Promote redevelopment of existing vacant and underutilized non-residential properties within City limits before annexing additional lands for these purposes.
There can be several challenges when developing on vacant and underutilized sites, including limited parcel size and subsequent ability to expand, outdated infrastructure, ill-suited development regulations, and potential environmental contamination (brownfields). However, seeing these properties redeveloped can lead to benefits such as aesthetic improvements to the area, increased tax revenues without having to expand municipal services, and preservation of open space. To help catalyze redevelopment of these properties, the City may choose to offer incentives. These could be in the form of reduced permitting or utility connection fees; flexibility in development regulations such as lot size, setback, or parking requirements; or City-led infrastructure or amenity improvements.
Encourage mixed commercial and office-flex development in the area west of I-65 and east of SR 39.
This area includes the former Holiday Inn site on the east side of S Lebanon St/SR 39 and continues to the south and east. As opposed to the large footprint industrial tenants of the Lebanon Business Park, this area is envisioned to be a mixture of office, destination commercial, and office-flex development. The area benefits from interstate access and visibility and would be organized around the extension of Enterprise Boulevard. Destination commercial uses may include entertainment, amusement, sports and recreation attractions as well as destination retail uses that serve a large region. Generally, customers will plan a special trip to such uses and the overall concept is the experience as opposed to shopping for a particular good. Office-flex uses are employment generators that may include traditional office space combined with research and development, retail product sales and display, light industry, and small-scale warehousing. For the most part, destination commercial uses should be located along the interstate while the office-flex uses should be south of the extended Enterprise Boulevard. Supporting commercial uses such as restaurants, hospitality, and professional services should also be promoted.
Consider development of a formalized incentive program for business retention and attraction based on opportunities for local employment at competitive wages.
Incentives such as real estate and personal property tax abatements, infrastructure improvements, and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district allocations are important tools in economic development efforts to grow and attract jobs and wealth for the local economy. There are several best practices to use to help protect public investments in the private sector while also ensuring the City remains competitive from an economic development perspective. Lebanon already utilizes many of these practices, but it can be helpful for public transparency and potential businesses to have a more formal incentive program. Goals of the program should include aligning incentives with well-defined economic development goals, conducting cost-benefit analyses of potential incentive candidates, and establishing performance standards for employment growth, wages, or workforce training. Incentive programs should be evaluated regularly to ensure they are truly generating the economic returns intended.
Continue to develop partnerships between the City, Lebanon Community Schools, WorkOne Lebanon, Boone County EDC, and other organizations involved in workforce development training.
Expansion of local businesses and the attraction of new ones is hindered without the availability of an adequate workforce. Workforce development may include skill development for displaced workers, on-the-job training for existing employees, curriculum changes at local schools, and other assistance to match skilled workers with open positions and provide employers access to qualifies candidates. The City will not be the provider of actual services when it comes to workforce training; typically this is done through existing training providers and education institutions. However, the City can play a role in facilitating and coordinating initiatives between providers, institutions, and local employers.
Review planning and zoning procedures and conduct follow up surveys with recent applicants to ensure ease of understanding and timeliness in the review process.
As a precursor to or part of an update to the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), the City should seek out recent businesses or developers that have gone through planning and zoning development review to understand their impressions of the process. The goal of such a survey or interview would be to ensure the City remains business friendly while also protecting the public interest and ensuring the community’s goals for new development are being met. Uncertainty in the review and permitting process, whether for a rezoning, variance, or site development plan review, is often one of the most significant challenges for a business or developer. It is imperative that the City’s UDO be as clear, concise, and user-friendly as possible and that development regulations are applied in a uniform manner.
Conduct a formal business visitation program with City leaders and Boone County EDC representatives to ensure communications and improve relationships with current businesses.
A business visitation program works to focus local economic development efforts on supporting and improving relationships with existing businesses. A successful program will demonstrate that the City appreciates local business contributions to economic growth, help to address issues local businesses may be facing, and better pair education and technical assistance programs to business needs. The visits should include an economic development official specifically focused on existing business development. City leadership may include elected, appointed, or staff positions.
Develop a working group with both City and private utility providers, INDOT, Boone County Highway Dept. and others to coordinate planning and infrastructure investment to further business attraction.
Regional coordination and the sharing of information across organizations and political boundaries is essential to successful economic development. Employees, capital, and goods and services are all increasingly mobile, and regional partners must work together to support and promote common economic objectives for the benefit of each partner. The City alone cannot provide all the infrastructure and services necessary to support emerging enterprises. The City, other local utility providers, and agencies with jurisdiction over area rights-of-way and easements should share plans for future improvements and investments so that all partner organizations can consider potential upgrades or installations, ultimately creating cost and time savings.
Identify potential sites and encourage property owners to pursue Indiana Site Certified program certification through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to better market properties for development.
The Indiana Site Certified program is an initiative of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) designed to certify sites that are ready for economic development. The program has three main goals: mitigate risks, as a marketing tool, and illustrate a community’s commitment to economic development. Sites are certified as either silver, gold, or prime depending on certain parameters and site characteristics. The City should assist property owners in pursuing site certification in alignment with future land use and economic development goals to better advertise development potential within the community.
Promote the City’s regional stormwater detention initiatives as a development incentive tool that can reduce land development costs and provide an attractive recreational amenity.
Lebanon commissioned a study of a potential regional stormwater detention system that could be constructed across the City to better mitigate flooding and stormwater issues. Completed in 2016, the plan identified four primary locations for detention basins, or lakes. To date, only the detention facility immediately southwest of and serving the Lebanon Business Park has been created. The plan is for it to be expanded as additional development occurs in the area. This regional plan should be promoted to site selectors and developers as a way to decrease land area requirements, and subsequently costs, for new development. The detention lakes also have the potential to become recreational amenities for nearby development and the community at large.
Advertise City assets such as open space and recreational opportunities, events programming, the historic downtown, and housing affordability as a business and employee attraction tool.
A primary component of attracting an adequate workforce is creating a place where people want to live. Lebanon continues to make investments in placemaking initiatives including recent improvements to the downtown, continuation of the City’s trail system, and expanded parks and recreation programming. Additionally, low cost of living makes home-ownership within reach for many residents. These strengths need to be advertised as a critical piece to growing and attracting local employment.
Promote mixed use development to increase opportunities for retail, restaurant, and office development located closer to residential concentrations while also being distributed throughout the City.
Zoning regulations focused on single-use districts have been and will continue to be the primary means of land use regulation in both Lebanon and much of the country. Single-use districts were established to protect public health and safety by separating potentially harmful industrial uses from residential and commercial areas. As environmental performance standards have increased, strict land use separations are less necessary. By allowing and promoting mixed use development, benefits such as reduced traffic congestion, improved public health, increased community interaction, land conservation, and more efficient use of infrastructure can be realized.