Technical Assistance

Intro Incentives WebCourse
April 5 - 6, 2017
Daily: 12:00 - 5:00 PM Eastern

Alaska Industrial Development and Export AuthorityBaker Tilly Virchow KrauseBallard Spahr LLPBNY MellonBricker & Eckler LLPBryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLPBusiness OregonCohnReznickFBT Project Finance Advisors LLCFrost Brown Todd, LLCGrant Thornton LLPHawkins Delafield & Wood LLPIce Miller LLPKeyBanc Capital MarketsKutak Rock LLPMB Financial Bank, NAMcCarter & English, LLPMcGuireWoodsNW Financial Group, LLCSB Friedman Development AdvisorsSquire Patton BoggsStern BrothersStifel NicolausU.S. BankWells Fargo SecuritiesWilmington TrustZ. The Bond Buyer


Incentive use has grown dramatically and become a more prominent – and challenging – part of economic development work. Economic development incentives can help locations attract, retain and develop business and industry, but they are also used to finance neighborhood revitalization, redevelop brownfields, provide workforce training and accomplish other important community objectives. The Intro Incentives WebCourse will examine the role of economic development incentives in conjunction with other development finance programs and explore how incentives can be used effectively and responsibly.

This course will consider how incentives are being used in today’s economic environment and outline steps that are being taken to reduce risk and achieve better outcomes. In particular, this course will address the characteristics of well-designed incentive programs and processes to ensure meaningful impact, value, and accountability.

This course qualifies for the CDFA Training Institute's Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP) Program. Start down the road to personal and professional advancement today.


Course Objectives

  • Discover how incentives programs operate at the state, local, and regional level
  • Consider characteristics of well-designed incentive programs that work for both the business and the community to drive long-term, mutually beneficial economic development projects
  • Understand how to refine incentive strategies and reduce risk
  • Learn about approaches to compliance monitoring and program evaluation
  • Share strategies for meaningful reporting and communication on incentive use
  • Hear about the new rules for tax abatement disclosures
  • Discuss innovative incentive approaches being employed by communities across the country

Topics Covered

  • Incentives in the context of the development finance toolbox
  • Incentive program design elements
  • Due diligence and impact analysis
  • Performance agreements and compliance
  • Elements of program evaluation
  • Improving transparency, reporting and communication
  • Trends in incentive use

Who Should Attend?

  • Bond issuers
  • Economic development professionals
  • Community development professionals
  • Elected officials
  • Government and nonprofit finance officers
  • Corporate trustees
  • Legal counsel
  • Underwriters
  • Commercial bankers
  • Accountants
  • Financial advisors
  • Policy makers

Course Advisor

Ellen Harpel PhD Ellen Harpel PhD
CDFA Incentives Course Advisor
Business Development Advisors
Ellen Harpel is the founder of Smart Incentives and president of Business Development Advisors LLC (BDA), an economic development and market intelligence consulting firm. She has helped many communities evaluate the competitiveness of their... (More)


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wed 12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Welcome & Overview
Welcome to the Intro Incentives WebCourse. During this time, we will introduce CDFA, explain how to use the online software, and discuss the framework for the two-day course.
What is an Incentive?
The opening session of the course will define an incentive and provide an overview of the variety of ways that incentives are used. Speakers will frame the national incentives discussion and explain how to include incentives in the development finance toolbox. The concept of a 4x4 framework will be introduced.
Wed 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Designing and Deploying Incentives Effectively
Every incentives program whether at the state or local level should be created with a thoughtful approach and careful attention to best practices. During this session, speakers will outline steps for setting goals and identifying the incentives needs depending on the community type. Considerations for determining the portfolio of programs, whether incentives should be discretionary or “by-right,” and how to negotiate incentives packages will also be discussed.
Wed 3:00 PM - 3:15 PM
Wed 3:15 PM - 5:00 PM
Using Data and Analystics to Reduce Risk
Making informed decisions based on data and analysis is one of the strongest ways to manage a transparent and fair incentives program. This session will highlight several best practices for background research, business case analysis, and establishing contracts and performance agreements. Technology and software solutions for impact analysis will also be addressed along with a discussion about using data for ongoing communication and monitoring.
  • Sally Avery, Director, Tennessee Economic & Community Development
  • Isabel Cyr, Senior Consultant, The CAI Global Group
  • Kent Gardner, Principal, Center for Governmental Research
  • Paul Scheuren, Economist, Impact DataSource
  • Jeremy Stiles, Statistical Research Specialist, Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development
Wed 5:00 PM

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thu 12:00 PM - 12:15 PM
Revisiting Day 1
The first day of the Intro Incentives WebCourse looked at incentives from a broad perspective and introduced the basic concepts and decision-making process. At the start of Day 2, we will review some important terms and set the stage for the remaining sessions focused on compliance and reporting.
Thu 12:15 PM - 2:00 PM
Compliance Monitoring and Program Evaluation
Ongoing compliance of incentives programs is critical to experiencing success and establishing the long-term life of a program. During this session, speakers will address various methods for compliance monitoring and program evaluation and outline different approaches based on the types of incentives offered.
Thu 2:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Thu 2:15 PM - 3:30 PM
New Disclosure Rules for Tax Abatements
The Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) recently approved Statement No. 77, Tax Abatement Disclosures, which establishes guidance requiring state and local governments to disclose certain information about tax abatement agreements for periods beginning after December 15, 2015. This session will outline the requirements and explain how communities should prepare for meeting these disclosure rules.
Thu 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Reporting and Communication
Maintaining consistent and clear reporting is an accepted best practice in managing an incentives program. This session will focus on using transparent communication and involving the community so that incentives reports can be understood by all stakeholders. Several different approaches will be considered along with a discussion about choosing the best method for your community.
  • Garth Brazelton, Chief Operating Officer, KSM Location Advisors
  • Kara Wood, Economic Development Director, City of Grand Rapids
  • John Woolley, Deputy Legislative Auditor, Washington State Legislature: Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee
Thu 4:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Innovative Incentives Approaches
To end the Intro Incentives WebCourse, innovative incentive methods, unique ideas, and collaborative approaches will be considered from communities of various sizes.
Thu 5:00 PM


The Intro Incentives WebCourse will take place on the web through GoToWebinar, an online distance learning software. The course will meet each day on April 5-6, 2017 from 12:00-5:00 pm (Eastern). You must have access to a computer and phone to attend the WebCourse.


This course qualifies for the CDFA Training Institute's Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP) Program. Start down the road to personal and professional advancement today.

CDFA permits only one person to login and participate in the course. If multiple people are accessing the course without paying to attend, we will terminate your connection and access to GoToWebinar. CDFA offers group discounts for organizations that wish to register multiple people.

Register before March 10, 2017 for Early-Bird Rates.
Early Bird Rates
(Ends March 10)
CDFA Member: $550
Non-Member: $825
Standard Rates
(After March 10)
CDFA Member: $600
Non-Member: $875