IBJ: "TAFT: Invest through TIFs for brighter future"

There’s a great metaphor for why we need to embrace TIF funding in this week’s Indianapolis Business Journal Forefront section:

Think of our city as a 48-year-old union assembly line worker named Carl who was just laid off from a shuttered GM plant. Carl’s high school diploma and skill set will not get him a job that will fund college for his kids and a comfortable retirement. Carl faces the choice of immediately taking a job in another factory offering lower wages and limited benefits or dipping into his savings account and taking a year off to obtain a certification in high-tech manufacturing machinery operation.

While giving up short-term pay is risky, the only way Carl will be able to meet his financial goals is to use his savings to retool himself into a higher-skilled, well-paid worker. Few would argue that Carl should just take the safe but low-opportunity job today instead of taking the risky step of going back to school.

The citizens of Indianapolis have dreams of what our city can become in spite of our challenges. Are we willing to invest in this future by tightening our belts and taking some risk today? If so, strategically using TIF to remake our city into the competitive place it needs to be seems like a wise move.

I hope the mayor and the council can work through their differences to accelerate investment in our future.

Bill Taft is Indianapolis executive director of Local Initiatives Support Corp., a not-for-profit that invests in neighborhood redevelopment projects.