Newswise – SALT LAKE CITY – The Sorenson Impact Center, the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA, through its Rethinking Revenue initiative) and Urban3 announced today that six jurisdictions have been selected for the first Putting Assets to Work (PAW) Incubator.
Through PAW, local governments identify underutilized assets such as idle parking lots and draw on public and private expertise to turn them profitable while the government retains ownership. Proceeds benefit the community in the form of benefits like new bus routes connecting neighborhoods with jobs.
Selected candidates will now embark on a 10-month fact-finding mission to identify, map and plan uses for underutilized assets in their respective jurisdictions that may be suitable for private investment, with social and environmental benefits to communities. Communities come from coast to coast, have leaders from across the political spectrum and have different priorities – but all see promise in this innovation. These are: the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Resilience Authority in Annapolis, Maryland and Anne Arundel County, Maryland; the city of Atlanta, Georgia; the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee; the city of Cleveland, Ohio; Harris County, Texas; and the city of Lancaster, California. Proposed uses of the new revenue that could be generated from asset development in these communities include affordable housing, support for small businesses, access to childcare, transportation investment and climate resilience.
The PAW Incubator is made possible through a partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based think tank dedicated to improving the quality of life through the effective use, taxation and stewardship of land; and thanks to the support of Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that brings talented people together in networks to prove their ideas and solve difficult problems in science and society.
“We’re thrilled to be working with six such outstanding partners,” said McAdams, who served as mayor of Salt Lake County from 2013 to 2019 before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. “When I was mayor, we identified all of the state-owned assets in the county and were shocked to find that they were valued at about $10 billion. That is enormous for a jurisdiction of our size. If we’re able to improve the public return on our assets, even slightly, we can begin to address some of the biggest challenges facing our region, such as: Now, through our Putting Assets to Work incubator, we hope to be able to offer a blueprint to others who can do the same.”
McAdams is a senior fellow at the Sorenson Impact Center, housed at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.
“This initiative is potentially transformative as it increases the resources for jurisdictions to promote equitable growth and address both social and environmental needs in communities without creating additional tax burdens for residents,” said Janis Dubno, serving as Managing Director of Impact Finance and manages the project at the center.
“One of the most exciting things about this project is that we can show in real time where communities are losing money and how they can reverse it with the right investment,” said Joseph Minicozzi. the director of Urban3, an Asheville, North Carolina-based consulting firm specializing in land value economics, property tax analysis, and community design. “This is a data-driven project that will have a real impact on communities.”
“We’re excited to continue to rethink how government can find the dollars in our modern economy for critical services while preserving community values,” said Chris Morrill, executive director and CEO of GFOA, the Chicago-based membership organization for public finance officials. “Through our Rethinking Revenue initiative, PAW will enable civil society leaders to do more with their assets and find breakthrough ways to meet their growing budgetary needs.”
About the Sorenson Impact Center
The Sorenson Impact Center helps organizations realize their impact vision by connecting capital with social and environmental solutions, helping organizations measure, report and improve impact, and incorporating data science and human-centric storytelling into everything we do, integrated. Together with our customers and partners, we share the vision of a just and prosperous world where everyone is valued, communities thrive and the measured impact of our actions guides decision making. As part of our mission to educate future impact leaders, the center integrates academic programs and experiential learning into each of its areas of practice. The center is proudly housed in the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.
About the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA)
Founded in 1906, GFOA represents public finance officials in the United States and Canada. The association’s more than 20,000 members are federal, state/provincial and local finance officials deeply involved in the planning, financing and implementation of thousands of government operations in each of their jurisdictions. GFOA’s mission is to promote excellence in public finance. PAW is an example of GFOA’s leadership in helping governments rethink how legacy revenue systems can be modernized through its Rethinking Revenue initiative.
Urban3 is a business consulting firm founded in 2011 to show communities the true value of good design with simple math. All ideas are born from a problem. The problem for us was that churches were going broke and the reason was not clear. We use public tax records, mapping technology, and other datasets to help communities see where their money is coming and going. Our GeoAccountingTM approach has helped more than 170 cities in 40 states make more informed decisions about economic development, land use, zoning, and transportation planning. Because we believe everyone should be able to participate in conversations about fiscal health, our methods incorporate visual and data-driven storytelling to easily explain these complex policies and systems.
Heads of state welcomed the news:
“Anne Arundel County is honored to be one of the selected community partners for the Putting Assets to Work pilot,” said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman. “The opportunities arising from this project will support local infrastructure development through the new Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Resilience Authority. The combination of these two innovative efforts will help ensure the economic and financial sustainability of our community going forward.”
“The affordability challenges facing Atlanta and other major cities are greater than any single person or entity,” said Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens. “Government is at its best when all voices are at the table and all hands are on deck. We look forward to working with the experts at the PAW Incubator to maximize the efforts of our Affordable Housing Strike Force and leverage our public lands to achieve tangible results in equity and affordable housing for the people of Atlanta.”
“I am delighted that Chattanooga was selected to participate in the Putting Assets to Work Incubator,” said Tim Kelly, Mayor of Chattanooga. “Through this innovative program, we have the opportunity to use our public assets to fund key initiatives such as affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. In short, this groundbreaking program will bring us closer to realizing the vision of One Chattanooga as a place where all residents can thrive and thrive.”
“We are thrilled to be selected for the PAW Incubator. As a Cleveland native and now as Mayor of this great city, I believe the City of Cleveland’s real estate investments have tremendous potential,” said Justin M. Bibb, Mayor of Cleveland. “The incubator offers the city and my administration an incredible opportunity to leverage our diverse array of city-owned assets by maximizing their use and generating public revenue for the common good. I’m committed to this initiative and excited for the city. Put those assets to good use—Cleveland can’t wait.”
“I am proud that Harris County has been included in the first group of recipients of the Putting Assets to Work (PAW) incubator program,” said Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “PAW will help us figure out how to transform property we already own into a new development that serves the community well and brings public benefits. Rather than letting undervalued and unused space gather dust, we transform it into innovative developments that make the county an even more attractive place to live, work and play. I would like to thank Director Ramirez, the staff at the Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity, and the Government Finance Officers Association for their work in making this a reality.”
“I am very pleased that our application to join the PAW Incubator was accepted! Seizing the opportunity to turn Lancaster’s assets into revenue for our residents is an exciting and worthwhile endeavor,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “We must be good stewards of this land and the City of Lancaster is honored to have the opportunity to assess and revitalize areas of Lancaster that are currently underutilized.”