Allen Bell

For Wichita’s economic development machinery, failure

Compared to a broad group of peer metropolitan areas, Wichita performs very poorly. As Wichita embarks upon a new era of economic development, we need to ask who to trust with this important task. The good news: In a recent op-ed, Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer wrote that the city needs to make a decision regarding "A more aggressive approach to job creation." (Carl Brewer: Wichita can have a great next year, December 22, 2013 Wichita Eagle) The bad news: Wichita has performed very poorly in job creation in recent decades, and even if we decide on a more aggressive approach,…
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Wichita’s policymaking on display

When asked to provide documents that establish the city's proclaimed policy, Wichita city hall is not able to do so, leaving us to wonder just how policy is made. At an April meeting of the Wichita City Council, both Urban Development Director Allen Bell and Wichita city manager Robert Layton explained that for downtown projects, the city's policy that the debt service fund must show a cost-benefit ratio of 1.3 to one or better doesn't apply. (Video of Bell explaining this policy is here, and of Layton doing the same, here. Meeting minutes are here.) More about this policy is…
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Wichita economic development not being managed

The Wichita Eagle has reported that Wichita has increased its granting of property tax exemptions in recent years. (Wichita doubles property tax exemptions for businesses, October 20, 2013) Buried in the story is the really important aspect of public policy. In his reporting, Bill Wilson wrote: The Eagle asked the city last week for an accounting of the jobs created over the past decade by the tax abatements, a research project that urban development staffers have yet to complete. “It will take us some time to pull together all the agenda reports on the five-year reviews going back to 2003.…
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Wichita: No such document

When asked to provide documents that establish the city's proclaimed policy, Wichita city hall is not able to do so, leaving us to wonder just how policy is made. At last week's meeting of the Wichita City Council, both Urban Development Director Allen Bell and Wichita city manager Robert Layton explained that for downtown projects, the city's policy that the debt service fund must show a cost-benefit ratio of 1.3 to one or better doesn't apply. (Video of Bell explaining this policy is here, and of Layton doing the same, here. Meeting minutes are here.) More about this policy is…
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In Wichita, economic development policies are questioned

For an update on this story, see Wichita: No such document. At Tuesday's meeting of the Wichita City Council, I was prepared to ask the council to not approve issuance of Industrial Revenue Bonds. My reason, explained here, was that the cost-benefit analysis did not meet the standard the city has established in its economic development incentives policy. At the meeting, though, Urban Development Director Allen Bell and Wichita city manager Robert Layton both explained that for downtown projects, the city's policy that the debt service fund must show a cost-benefit ratio of 1.3 to one or better doesn't apply.…
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