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How Does the Union Pier Project Compare to a Vegetable Garden? – Simplifying Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Written by Diamond Curry, Manager of Government Relations

Last week, the Chamber joined a coalition of advocacy groups endorsing Mayor Cogswell’s initiative to start a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district at Union Pier to ensure public funds will be used for affordable housing, public infrastructure, resilience measures and provide public access to greenspace and the water. This group included the Chamber, along with the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League and the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association.

As a Chamber member, you may be wondering what is a TIF and how can it help the city’s business community.

Of course the easiest way to explain it would include a vegetable garden, right?

Stick with us!


TIFs are a way for local taxing bodies, like the City of Charleston, to make an investment in the development or redevelopment of an area that will create a cycle of reinvestment in the community long-term.

For example, let’s say you have a vegetable garden in your neighborhood that makes money (tax revenue). Instead of taking that revenue and immediately using it in the neighborhood, you could use it to make additional improvements to the garden.

As the garden improves it starts making even more money. The garden becomes so popular that people who don’t live in the neighborhood, like tourists for example, begin to visit and start buying from it.  Your garden is now worth much more than before you made the initial investments and the neighborhood is receiving significantly more money (tax revenue). You now have additional funding to make improvements elsewhere in the neighborhood. 

In this instance, Union Pier is that vegetable garden.

By earmarking a portion of the property tax revenue that the site could produce, the City of Charleston will be able to catalyze economic growth and infrastructure improvements. The redevelopment of Union Pier will add significant value to the area and subsequently generate more funding for the City to use towards green space, parks, water and sewer infrastructure, access to water and attainable housing.

We believe that the success of this model will increase our competitiveness as a region, support our local economy and improve the quality of life for citizens.

Posted on
May 14th 2024
Written by
Justin Allen
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