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Full-time students Seth Capron, Eric Nyman, ane Brandon Strong (all ’13) presented their work at to the Evanston City Council on Dec. 11.

Full-time students Seth Capron, Eric Nyman, Brandon Strong (all ’13) and part-time student Nick Federowicz presented their work at to the Evanston City Council on Dec. 11.

Presenting Solutions

Kellogg’s Real Estate Lab students present their case for improved use of Tax Increment Financing in Evanston

By Daniel P. Smith

12/17/2012 - With scores of interviews, research articles and consulting meetings in their wake, four Kellogg students — Seth Capron, Eric Nyman, Brandon Strong (all ’13) and Nick Federowicz — stood before a collection of Evanston city leaders and residents on Dec. 11 and made their case for improved use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in Evanston.

The group’s presentation inside Evanston’s City Council Chambers highlighted TIF’s successes and shortcomings both locally and nationally before offering “actionable and feasible” suggestions capable of shaping Evanston’s future TIF district administration. The presentation was the final assignment in Professor Therese McGuire’s quarter-long Real Estate Lab course. McGuire is Kellogg’s ConAgra Foods Research Professor in Strategic Management.

Read about the students’ final preparations before the City Council meeting.

TIF in Evanston
Evanston, which first used TIF in 1985 to propel downtown redevelopment in an area then occupied by the city’s dog pound and a garbage incinerator, has used TIF to spark improvements in areas throughout the city. Evanston currently has six active TIF districts and a pending TIF at Chicago Ave. and Main St., about one mile south of Northwestern’s campus.

While acknowledging Evanston’s past TIF successes, the students offered their recommendations for future TIF administration in the city, including:

  • Implementing a more rigorous process for TIF approval, oversight and accountability 
  • Aligning TIF use with the city’s broader economic development goals 
  • Mitigating financial risk by placing specific checkpoints on private-sector partners and maximizing the use of competitive market forces 
  • Tying TIF expenditures to the benefit of the broader community

Evanston city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the Kellogg students’ novel and objective analysis “raised the bar.”

“The students gave us recommendations to look at TIF in a way that few communities do and those thoughts will help us as we move forward,” Bobkiewicz said.

Having a real-world impact
Each of the students said he valued the opportunity to contribute in a tangible way to Evanston’s future.

Federowicz, a first-year student in Kellogg’s Part-Time MBA Program , approached the Real Estate Lab course as an internship in which he could bring classroom lessons to a real-world setting. With two of Evanston’s TIF districts in their infancies, he looks forward to following their development in the coming years.

“It will be gratifying to see how these areas evolve and to know that we played a role in Evanston’s economic development,” Federowicz said.

Likewise, Strong said it was exciting to know his and his colleagues’ efforts “will matter.”

“This was a lot of work and research, but a lot of fun, too,” Strong said. “We stayed focused on our objective throughout and hope our recommendations will help drive Evanston’s continued success with TIF.”


Further Reading

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2011 Kellogg Real Estate Conference

Ready for Action

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