To incentivize or not to incentivize? Broomfield ponders its economic development strategy 

BROOMFIELD — Should Broomfield prioritize economic development incentives to entice large companies to open up shop in the city and county or should leaders instead focus their support on small, existing businesses fighting to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Should an incentive recipient’s ability to fill local coffers with property tax revenue trump its commitment to environmental sustainability or affordable housing? 

These questions and others are on top of mind for Broomfield leaders as they attempt to craft an economic development and business incentives strategy that’s most beneficial to the community. 

During a Broomfield City Council study session this week, members’ approaches to these issues varied. 

“When we give an incentive to a company coming in, that’s money that’s not going to our small businesses that are already in Broomfield,” Councilman Deven Shaff said. “Those small businesses are the flavor of our community.”

Councilwoman Sharon Tessier staked out a similar position and said, “Maybe it’s time to move away from incentivizing and move toward making sure companies are environmentally sound and contribute to housing.”

Tessier said she supports efforts to create a “holistic, sustainable community,” of which property tax generation is merely one aspect. 

Councilwoman Guyleen Castriotta acknowledged that “chef-owned restaurants, mom-and-pop retailers will need assistance,” especially if the economy is going to bounce back from the COVID-19 recession. 

But she noted that the city relies on commercial property tax revenue from larger corporations to fund critical services.

“We need to nurture both,” Castriotta said.

In recent years, Broomfield has offered incentives to large, high-profile firms such as Crocs Inc. (NASDAQ: CROX), Conga (a tradename for AppExtremes LLC) and Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL) to either relocate or expand within the city. 

While those types of large corporations may not add to the local culture in a way that a beloved record store might, Mayor Patrick Quinn said they’re essential to building Broomfield’s economic base. 

“Attracting a restaurant isn’t necessarily economic development,” he said. “Attracting primary employers, particularly ones that move from other areas, is the definition of good economic development.”

Burgeoning cities have to focus on building a base of primary employers before spending much time considering to what degree the values of the company align with the community, Quinn said. 

There are, of course, exceptions. One is Magpul Industries Corp., to which Quinn said he opposed offering incentives. Magpul is a firearms component maker formerly based in Erie that sought incentives to bring its headquarters to Broomfield before ultimately deciding on Cheyenne.

“We want to make sure these are jobs that match up with the community,” Broomfield economic vitality director Jeff Romine told members of the council. “The types of firms matter to us and the type of jobs matters to us.”

This week’s economic incentives discussion wasn’t purely hypothetical. The city is evaluating whether to extend tax breaks to two yet-unnamed firms. 

Project Magellan is a global firm with no existing local operations. The company is considering opening an IT department office in Broomfield that could eventually house 75 workers. 

Project Quick Shot is an existing Broomfield manufacturing firm that recently moved from Boulder. The firm, which now employs about 40 workers and plans to hire as many as 200 in the next five years, wants to expand into about 20,000 square feet. 

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BROOMFIELD — Should Broomfield prioritize economic development incentives to entice large companies to open up shop in the city and county or should leaders instead focus their support on small, existing businesses fighting to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Should an incentive recipient’s ability to fill local coffers with property tax revenue trump its commitment to environmental sustainability or affordable housing? 

These questions and others are on top of mind for Broomfield leaders as they attempt to craft an economic development and business incentives strategy that’s most beneficial to the community. 

During a Broomfield City Council study session this week, members’ approaches to these issues varied. 

“When we give an incentive to a company coming in, that’s money that’s not going to our small businesses that are already in Broomfield,” Councilman Deven Shaff said. “Those small businesses are the flavor of our community.”

Councilwoman Sharon Tessier staked out a similar position and said, “Maybe it’s time to move away from incentivizing and move toward making sure companies are environmentally sound and contribute to housing.”

Tessier said she supports efforts to create a “holistic, sustainable community,” of which property tax generation is merely one aspect. 

Councilwoman Guyleen Castriotta acknowledged that “chef-owned restaurants, mom-and-pop retailers will need assistance,” especially if the economy is going to bounce back from the COVID-19 recession. 

But she noted that the city relies on commercial property tax revenue from larger corporations to fund critical services.

“We need to nurture both,” Castriotta said.

In recent years, Broomfield has offered incentives to large, high-profile firms such as Crocs Inc.…