City leaders unveil new tax break plan for businesses

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – City officials unveiled an ambitious new plan Thursday that aims to grow Indianapolis.

The plan calls for some businesses to pay employees $18/hr. in order to qualify for a tax break.

City leaders hope it will reduce poverty and help the middle class in Indianapolis.

“Even though Indianapolis is an incredibly prosperous city, even though we have robust economic development, the truth is also that it has not empowered many of our neighbors and we want no one left behind,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett.

At Ivy Tech Thursday, Mayor Hogsett and other city leaders announced a new roadmap for economic development.

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The strategy prioritizes four key areas: business growth, skills development, physical investment, and social capital and support systems.

“When you’re dealing with companies that are growing or you’re trying to attract new companies to your area, often times you lead with what’s important to your community,” said Ian Nicolini, the Vice President of Economic Development at the Indy Chamber.

As part of the initiative, businesses that want to be eligible for tax abatement and training programs need to:

  • Pay employees at least $18/hr.
  • Provide health care benefits
  • Demonstrate a positive community impact and positive return to the city

“You’re thinking about trade-able sectors. In general, the most eligible entities are going to be everything from advanced manufacturing, tech, life sciences, logistics, but even into bio sciences and ag,” said Nicolini.

The idea of the salary requirement had some people in downtown Indy Thursday evening divided.

“I really think it’s a good idea for the companies to have this incentive and it’ll also help out people in poverty who are not able to pay their rent,” said Cheryl Jones.

“Will businesses be able to afford that? Small businesses won’t be able to afford $18 an hour! People don’t work for their money anymore. Why can’t they work their way up to that amount? That’s what I had to do,” said Belinda Weathers.

In the end, the city hopes the change sets Indy up for more success.

“We think that we’re able to communicate to the outside world that not only is Indianapolis a great partner for doing business, but we’re going to advance this city together as partners,” said Nicolini.

Nicolini says city officials looked at other cities doing the same thing to see how this type of plan will work, including Portland, San Diego and Austin.

The new initiative will start January 1.