Americana at Brand

The Americana at Brand in Glendale, on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / May 6, 2014)

The City Council approved creating a nonprofit corporation that, according to a city report, may “become a central hub for business activity in the future” at a Tuesday meeting.

The nonprofit corporation, which may cost an estimated $5,000 to $7,000 to startup due to federal and state paperwork as well as insurance requirements — may fill a void left by the 2012 dissolution of Glendale’s redevelopment agency, officials said.

“The importance of economic development doesn’t go away, but we have to change arrows in our quivers,” Philip Lanzafame, Glendale’s economic development director, said at the meeting.

The new nonprofit plans to entice businesses to Glendale, focusing on attracting users to high-value office buildings, nightlife-oriented tenants for the downtown, creative industries and filling chronically vacant spaces, according to a city report.

The organization would also be responsible for much of what current economic development staff already does, such as promoting Glendale to visitors, providing liaison services to business groups, guiding businesses through City Hall processes and managing former redevelopment properties, including the Panda Inn in downtown, which is slated to become a Laemmle Theater and apartment project.

Glendale officials relied heavily on its redevelopment agency to attract new businesses, such as the Americana at Brand, but when Sacramento lawmakers dissolved the program, which permitted local government agencies to use a proportion of property taxes to develop blighted areas, Glendale was left with fewer tools to improve the local economy.

A nonprofit corporation focused on economic development will give Glendale an edge in bringing companies to the city, said Darlene Sanchez, principal economic development officer.

The council is set to act as the nonprofit’s board of directors. Officials plan to use money that will be divvied out by state finance officials to various taxing entities, which includes the city, following the dissolution of former redevelopment assets, to fund the nonprofit.

As part of redevelopment’s end, Glendale, and other cities with redevelopment agencies, had to turn over redevelopment funds they had stockpiled and work to sell off some redevelopment properties.

Current economic development staff are slated to operate the nonprofit and none will receive extra compensation for doing so, Lanzafame said. In addition, economic development staff personnel plan to use the nonprofit to apply for grants not available to cities, officials said.

Councilman Frank Quintero described establishing the nonprofit corporation as a “good idea” because it somewhat replaces the defunct redevelopment agency and gives the city flexibility.

“This fills a partial gap,” Quintero said.

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