CEDAR RAPIDS — Mayor Ron Corbett told the Downtown Rotary Club on Monday that a city is like a restaurant and needs to provide quality service and a great meal or it will end up with a lousy reputation and an iffy future.
In what he called his first speech of the 2013 City Hall election race, Corbett talked about his commitment to make Cedar Rapids grow and attract business investment, and he began by holding up a sign, “Yes, We’re Open,” to emphasize that City Hall is “open for business”
He said that City Hall today is committed to providing excellent service to developers, builders and investors and it is at the ready to provide financial incentives to “close the deal.”
Often, he said, the incentive comes in the form of tax increment financing, in which local taxing entities forego revenue for a time from property taxes on the value created by new investment in trade for a business investing in the city.
He said the lost revenue from property taxes isn’t lost at all because the new investment wouldn’t be made without the incentive.
“One hundred percent of nothing is nothing,” the mayor said to make the point that demanding that a developer pay 100 percent of the property taxes on a new project would result in no project.
Corbett also said successful businesses set aside a percentage of their revenue for research and development so they can compete in the future.
He said city projects like the city’s new downtown library and the city’s new riverfront amphitheater are ways that the city is investing to move itself into the future.
A future-looking city doesn’t say, “If it was good enough for me, so why isn’t it good enough now?” the mayor. Dial phones might have worked, but nobody wants them today, he said.
Cedar Rapids’ reputation and its growth also depend on residents who believe the city’s best days are ahead.
One member of the Rotary asked Corbett how Cedar Rapids fit into the community of cities in the metro area.
Corbett said a strong Cedar Rapids makes for a strong metro area.