The page below lists sample strategies used by cities and regions to encourage and preserve industrial jobs. We first list sample city programs that incorporate a mix of strategies into a single approach, followed by miscellaneous additional strategies.
Chicago, IL: Planned Manufacturing Districts & Industrial Corridors
Overview: Chicago’s goal is to create and preserve quality jobs for residents through expanding and modernizing the city’s industrial businesses. To help retain businesses, Chicago created Planned Manufacturing Districts (PMD) in 1988 – a special zoning designation which creates an “industrial sanctuary.” The PMD places significant additional use restrictions on the industrial or manufacturing land and also places restrictions on the rezoning of industrial land for non-industrial uses. Chicago has also established “Industrial Corridors” – planning districts proposed by the city as part of a comprehensive industrial land use policy to be implemented through zoning review and targeted public investments. The corridors do not make up all the industrial land in Chicago, but represent key concentrations of industrial investment and employment. Industrial retention and preservation programs include low-interest loans for industrial firms, business infrastructure assistance, enterprise zone incentives, and tax increment financing. Additionally, the city targets capital improvement dollars to support industrial infrastructure. A challenge has been to relocate businesses to new sites within the city as needs change. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced an initiative that encourages owners and/or developers who seek zoning changes to negotiate buyout agreements with the city that would help support industrial development efforts.
New York, NY: Industrial Business Zones
Overview: New York City has created industrial zones to support the goals of making the city more business friendly, diversifying the economy, and improving quality of life. Industrial Business Zones (IBZs) are a centerpiece of this strategy to create competitive advantages for industrial and manufacturing businesses to locate within the city through zoning. Additional city initiatives to preserve industrial space include discouraging illegal conversion of industrial property, leveraging city-owned industrial assets for industrial businesses, and lowering the costs of real estate development and expansion.
San Francisco, CA: Production, Distribution, and Repair
Overview: San Francisco uses the term “Production, Distribution, and Repair” (PDR) instead of the term “industrial” to move away from the negative connotations of heavy industry (for example, large manufacturing plants, smelting operations, and refineries). Today, all industries in San Francisco are incorporating more technology into their work. San Francisco’s approach includes making sure that existing buildings serve new needs, that industrially-zoned land does not come into conflict with housing, and developing new zoning controls that delineate industrial land.
Definition: Brownfield remediation allows sites to be redeveloped to a different use or the siting of residential or commercial land uses in closer proximity to the industrial zone. Grant funding from the EPA supports this work.
Definition: Specialized sub-groups – for example electronics entrepreneurs, or manufacturers within the same city or region – build capacity by sharing resources such as infrastructure or space within buildings, buying from common suppliers, or forming networks like trade associations that provide convening and peer mentoring opportunities.
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies
Definition: The Comprehensive Economic Development Agency (CDA) is a guiding document outlining an economic development strategy prepared by a city or region for the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Cities and regions outline plans for industrial land use within the context of broader economic development goals.
Definition: Design guidelines can help make industrial zones more highly functional as well as more compatible with other uses across a city.
Global and regional participation
Definition: Cities and regions that recognize the impact of global and regional trends on local industry, competition, and opportunities to create clusters of specialization may see more success in achieving goals.
Industrial Buffer Zones
Definition: Industrial buffer zones provide a transition between industrial areas and adjacent residential zones, or commercial zones that also have residential uses. Requirements can include maximum size of use, setbacks, screening and landscaping, access to parking and loading, major odor sources, and light and glare.
Definition: In many cities, the number of available industrial jobs is decreasing; in others, the nature of the work is changing, requiring different and a sometimes higher level of technical skills for workers. Cities with workforce development strategies help workers shift to new industries or develop new skills within existing industries. Job training strategies should be part of an overall economic development plan that also considers a range of additional services to support quality of life including housing and accessible transportation.
Loan programs (small business loans)
Definition: Loans to small businesses can support the development and revitalization of industrial areas.
Streamlining the development and permitting approval process
Definition: Streamlining permitting processes can stimulate development by creating simpler, efficient, consistent, and cost-effective processes for issuing permits to attract new businesses.
Tax breaks and incentives
Definition: Tax breaks and incentives, including Tax Increment Financing and districts with tax abatements, help cities and regions upgrade and create new areas for industrial land.