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A reasonable request for direction : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
A reasonable request for direction

The Oswego Village Board has been divided for the past several years on the issue of offering incentives of any kind to attract new businesses to the village.

Depending upon your point of view, incentives are either costly giveaways to businesses that would locate in the village anyway, or are a necessary economic development tool the village needs to offer businesses to remain competitive with surrounding communities.

The board's failure to reach a consensus on the incentive issue has meant the village's economic development department has no policy to discuss with businesses that now contact the village. If a representative of Trader Joe's or any other firm calls the village today and asks if village officials will consider some form of incentive in exchange for their business locating in the community, the village's economic development department has no policy to "begin productive discussions," according to a memo Vijay Gadde, the village's economic development director, recently presented to the board. Gadde added in his memo: "The lack of a policy is a disadvantage to Oswego since we are competing with neighboring municipalities who have policies and use them in economic development marketing."

Gadde is asking the board to discuss incentives, come to an agreement and adopt a "written economic development incentive policy that can be communicated to the development community and will guide our marketing efforts and future development discussions."

It seems apparent that Gadde, an experienced economic developer who the board hired two years ago to promote local business attraction and retention, believes he and village staff need clarity on the incentive issue so they can plan their marketing efforts accordingly.

It's important to note that Gadde is not advocating either for or against incentives, he just wants some direction from the board which sets policy for the village. Gadde wrote: "If we want to market the availability and criteria related to an incentive tool, let's say it and define the conditions. If we are opposed to use of an incentive tool regardless of any criteria, then let's say it and it will not be used in our economic development marketing..."

We find Gadde's request for board direction on the incentive issue entirely reasonable. We believe the board should provide Gadde and village staff an answer on an incentive policy as soon as possible so the village is no longer at a disadvantage with its neighbors when it comes to attracting new businesses.

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