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City investor incentive aims to help nonprofits

by Minden Press-Herald

The City of Minden, through its incentive programs, is offering new investors and companies a one-of-a-kind avenue to give to nonprofits.
Minden Economic Development Director James Graham said the Benevolent Program is a way to boost funding for nonprofits while giving companies another avenue to help those in need.

“As you grow as a community, people move into your community,” he said. “People have all kinds of challenges in their lives, and there are nonprofits that address those issues. As we provide incentives to businesses, businesses are also required to provide for our community.”

When a company uses tax incentives offered by the city – Tax Increment Financing or Payment in Lieu of Taxes – 10 percent of the savings would be donated to the nonprofit of their choice if they choose to do so. If a company chooses to donate to a nonprofit, that business will have the choice of which nonprofit to donate to or it can cut a check for the 10 percent and it would be disseminated among all of the eligible nonprofits.

If a company makes a $4 million investment, uses the PILOT incentive at 85 percent, it would be a $340,000 savings to the company, he said. The company would then cut a check for 10 percent of that, which would be $34,000.

Another way Graham said a company could contribute would be through the arts. The company could commission a local artist to paint a painting or create a sculpture and pay the artist directly.

For nonprofits to be eligible, they must meet certain requirements and will be vetted by the economic development committees. United Way of Northwest Louisiana will then review the nonprofit for compliance and work with each nonprofit that received funds to ensure ongoing accountability. Lynn Stevens, chief operations officer for United Way, said United Way itself will not benefit from the Benevolent Program, but the nonprofits under it would if they are located in the City of Minden.

She said it just makes sense, because this is what they do all the time.

“We work with all the nonprofits, and we already do the due diligence for a lot of the nonprofits to know who’s doing good work, who needs some help and assistance, and they needed an unbiased person as well for the community,” she said. “We do this each year with grants, and it just seemed like a natural fit for us.”

Once it’s been evaluated for compliance, the contribution will be sent to the nonprofit.

The City of Gonzales has two TIF districts, and City Clerk Clayton Stafford said he’d never heard of such a program being offered.

“Our TIF districts are used for infrastructure,” he said. “We have one for our Tanger Outlet Mall, which is an additional penny sales tax, and 70 percent of it comes back to us, and it has to go for infrastructure and things within the mall. The other 30 percent the city gets to keep, but that goes into roads. It all goes to infrastructure, and I’ve never heard of it going to nonprofit entities.”

Stevens said the Benevolent Program is a new endeavor, and “this is one of the first in the state to my knowledge.”

“The incentive for our TIF districts is that the sales tax goes back into infrastructure,” Stafford said. “We don’t have the leeway to say, ‘We’d like you to give 10 percent to a nonprofit.’ If they locate in our TIF districts they’re actually going to be paying extra taxes.”

Stevens believes if new business comes to Minden and uses these incentives, it could develop into major funds for nonprofits that struggle each year to offer their services – and that’s the most important thing, she said.

“The opportunities are just so beneficial to a small community and small nonprofits,” she said.

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