The Industrial Development Corporation Act allows creating a non-profit corporation with broad powers to acquire and develop buildings and sites for economic development. Eligible projects for the corporation include everything from railroad lines to planetariums to certain tourist attractions.
The act prescribes a detailed process for creating the corporation. Three or more people who are both city electors and city taxpayers may obtain a charter of incorporation from the secretary of state after their application has been approved in a resolution adopted by a city’s governing body. The resulting corporation must have at least seven directors who are elected by the city’s governing body for staggered six-year terms. The directors must be both city electors and city taxpayers. No director may be a city officer or city employee.
Typically, the industrial development corporation recruits a company to build a plant in the community. To fund the construction, the development corporation sells industrial revenue bonds. The company uses the bond proceeds to build the plant. However, on paper, the development corporation holds title to the plant. The company runs its plant and gives the corporation annual payments to cover the bond principal and interest.
Since the loss of the federal income tax exemption for this type of industrial development bond, some industrial development corporations have issued taxable industrial development bonds as a legal way to give property tax breaks to new companies.
A city may not back the corporation’s bonds with its full faith and credit unless a certificate has been issued by the building finance committee of the Industrial Development Division of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, and a three-fourths majority approves the question in a local referendum.
A city may give property, assets, and loans to the corporation. A city also may develop infrastructure (power lines, water, sewer, etc.) in an industrial park and sign leases with the corporation.
Properties held by the corporation are tax exempt. The city may delegate authority to the corporation to negotiate in-lieu-of-tax payments from businesses using the corporation-owned properties. T.C.A. § 7-53-305.