By Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun October 25, 2011
VANCOUVER -- Businesses that want to locate in Vancouver and create new jobs will be offered tax incentives, Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson pledged Tuesday.
In unveiling his party's business strategy for the Nov. 19 civic election, Robertson said he wants to create a "mayor's investment forum" to attract investors globally. And he wants to mirror a new tax incentive plan on similar programs mounted elsewhere in the world.
While details of the incentive have yet to be released, a Vision Vancouver platform document claims that it would be of no cost to the city "because the grants are offset by growth in the tax base."
"Even in the midst of a global recession, Vancouver has seen remarkable economic progress," Vision council candidate Andrea Reimer said in a release.
"Globally-competitive tax rates are giving local startups and small businesses an early edge, establishing Vancouver as a leading centre for innovation and entrepreneurship. Our job creation and economic development platform will keep Vancouver on the right track."
The announcement comes as new business license data shows that Vancouver has lagged behind many Metro Vancouver municipalities in attracting business growth.
Robertson unveiled his plan at a noon meeting downtown attended by a number of businesses sympathetic to his policies. He said he will debate the plan later today at a Vancouver Board of Trade event with Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton.
The tax incentive plan is the newest element of an economic plan that Vision says builds on three years of trying to stimulate business growth, reduce red tape and lower commercial tax rates.
Robertson said a Vision council would continue with a multi-year tax-shift plan that is to end next year in which the city has shifted the tax rates from business to residential classes by one per cent per year. He made no commitment for 2013 and 2014, in contrast to Anton, who has said she will continue the tax shift program endorsed by the Fair Tax Commission.
Vision has also pledged to "aggressively implement" the Vancouver Economic Commission's strategy, which was unveiled in September by the city.
That strategy includes reviewing the city's regulatory framework, promoting the city globally, and creating a "green and Smart Enterprise Zone" to help build emerging sectors in green building and clean technology.
Robertson said he also wants to create a new "Tech Centre" to "support local entrepreneurs and new companies."
And he says the city will cut red tape, speed up the issuance of building permits, and establish a standard turnaround time for "the awarding of permits."
Anton and the NPA are expected to release their own economic development strategy later today.