Cincinnati’s top ranking for sustainability could help city win Amazon’s HQ2

Site Selection Magazine’s latest rankings could give Cincinnati an edge in the competition for Amazon’s $5-billion second headquarters location search, Cincinnati.com reports. The magazine ranked Cincinnati “No. 1 for environmental sustainability,” which “might be the city’s biggest strength in its competition with leading contenders” to become the home of Amazon’s HQ2. That project is expected to bring “[a]s many as 50,000 high-paying jobs” and “tens of billions in potential investment in the surrounding communities,” according to the article. Amazon “has made environmental sustainability a major priority,” and “last year was the leading corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the United States.” Site Selection highlighted “the University of Cincinnati’s new LEED gold-certified $120 million Carl H. Lindner College of Business” and Proctor & Gamble’s “investment and recycling and eliminating manufacturing waste” as examples of the city’s sustainability agenda. For more, read the full article.

Regional Updates, State Updates

Ohio wine industry economic impact estimated at $1.3 billion

The wine and grape industry in Ohio “has seen explosive growth” the past several years, with an economic impact estimated at $1.3 billion last year, the Akron Beacon Journal reports. Five years ago, that number was $786 million, according to a recent report from the Ohio Grape Industries Committee. The number of wineries has increased from 175 in 2012 to 265 last year, making Ohio the “sixth largest winemaker in the country,” the article reports. Ohio's wine industry “now provides 8,067 full-time jobs,” and “[a]ll that growth has helped generate $75 million in federal taxes and $72 million in state and local taxes.” Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association in Geneva said, “[t]he economic development guys used to look at wineries and tourism as fluff but increasingly they regard it as a serious economic tool.” For more, read the full article.

Regional Updates, State Updates

Cincinnati considers extending VTICA program to promote more affordable housing

A new initiative could extend Cincinnati’s voluntary tax incentive contribution agreement (VTICA) program to areas beyond downtown and Over-the-Rhine to “inject money into affordable housing and to projects in the city’s 50 other neighborhoods,” the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The proposal, from Mayor John Cranley, Vice Mayor David Mann and council members P.G. Sittenfeld and Kevin Flynn, would expand the program “that is used to pay for the operations of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar to other neighborhoods, but it would pay for other priorities,” according to the article. Under the current policy, “known officially as [a] Community Reinvestment Area (CRA)” developers receive property tax abatements for improvements they make to properties and agree to give a portion of the taxes they save to Downtown Cincinnati Inc. to fund the streetcar operations (see our September 21, 2016 blog post). If the program is expanded, half of the proceeds would stay “in the neighborhood where the development occurs” and the other half would go into “a citywide affordable housing fund.” For more, read the full article.

Financial Incentives, Regional Updates

Cincinnati asks developers to submit “best plans” for four city-owned sites

The city of Cincinnati “is asking developers to give them their best plans for four development sites around the city,” the Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The city’s Department of Community and Economic Development is requesting proposals for city-owned development sites that are “spread across the city and primed for development,” according to the article. The idea, according to director of community and economic development Oscar Bedolla, is to build on last year’s program and “release four opportunities at once.” The properties are: 31 Garfield Place, a parking lot where the city is “looking for a development that activates the streetscape”; 830 Lincoln Ave. in Walnut Hills, where the city would like to see “single- or multifamily units”; 3916 Reading Road, where the community wants a mixed-use development; and 3540 Ibsen Ave., where “the city is seeking an innovative development . . . with an emphasis on office use.” For more, read the full article.

Regional Updates, State Updates

Ohio “among top states” for economic development

A survey that tracks trends in economic development found Ohio “ranks No. 3 in the U.S. for state economic development organizations,” the Dayton Business Journal reports. The survey of corporate executives, called the “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing,” is “conducted every three years by the Development Counsellors International [DCI],” according to the article. Ohio “trailed only Georgia and South Carolina” in the report, which “showcases the efforts of JobsOhio.” DCI President Andrew T. Levine said the survey “provides insights into the minds of key decision makers” and that information “can be crucial to communities looking to set themselves apart from other locations.” For more, read the full survey and the Dayton Business Journal article. 

JobsOhio/ODSA, Regional Updates, State Updates

Study of incentives shows Columbus needs to offer more to compete with suburbs

A detailed study of the tax incentives Columbus offers shows the city needs to offer better incentives to compete with some Central Ohio suburbs, Columbus Business First reports. HR&A Advisors Inc. of New York conducted the study, which “found details ranging from the need for incentives in targeted areas to a revitalization fund developers pay into to help generate money for neighborhoods where development is lacking,” according to the article. While Columbus “is competitive with the abatements it offers . . . typically 10-year, 75-percent abatements for industrial and office projects,” some local cities “can offer abatements at 100 percent for up to 15 years.” Hilliard, Westerville, Dublin and Canal Winchester are among the cities offering larger incentives to attract companies to their communities. For more, read the full article

Financial Incentives, Regional Updates, State Updates

JumpStart Inc. receives $300,000 federal grant for new JS MedTech Fund

Cleveland’s JumpStart Inc. is one of 42 organizations that will receive funding through the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program, out of a pool of more than 200 applicants, Crain’s Cleveland reports. JumpStart will receive $300,000 to “create a $30-$25M JS MedTech Fund focused on biomedical devices, diagnostics and health care IT startups in the Northeast Ohio region,” the article reports. According to a government news release, “JumpStart anticipates making 20-25 seed stage investments ranging from $100K to $2M and estimates five-year impacts to include $125m in follow-on investment capital, 25 new business starts, and 210 direct jobs.” The grant will come from RIS’s Seed Fund Support category, which “provides funding for technical assistance to support the creation, launch, or expansion of equity-based, cluster-focused seed funds that invest regionally-managed risk capital in regionally-based startups with a potential for high growth.” For more, read the full article

Regional Updates, State Updates

Lodging tax will fund $15M Warren County sports complex

Taxpayers in Warren County will have “zero liability” for a $15-million sports complex other than a county lodging tax, after county commissioners agreed to use the lodging tax to finance the complex, the Dayton Daily News reports. The “3 percent lodging tax, as well as 1 percent recently added” will “be pledged to pay off debt” on the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village, according to the article. The commissioners also voted “to transfer the property for the sports complex to the Warren County Port Authority.” The port authority is expected to vote next Monday to “issue more than $15 million in debt to pay for the facility.” For more, read the full article.

Regional Updates, State Updates

Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton could all be in the running for Amazon’s $5B second HQ

Three years ago, “Amazon had no presence” in Ohio, but now Columbus is among the Ohio cities hoping to land the company’s $5-billion second corporate campus, adding to Amazon’s data centers, distribution centers and wind farms in the state, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Steve Weitzner, principal of Silverlode Consulting, said Amazon’s growing presence here “might give central Ohio an edge compared with other metro areas,” according to the Dispatch article. The Journal-News reports that Dayton “intends to try to lure the online shopping giant,” saying the city plans to respond to Amazon’s request for proposals for site location. Greater Cincinnati could leverage “low costs of living or commercial real estate” among other factors to bring the project’s expected 50,000 jobs to its metropolitan area, Cincinnati.com reports. Cleveland.com outlined what Amazon is looking for in its “2HQ” location, and how Cleveland stacks up to those requirements. For more, read the full Dispatch, Journal-News, Cincinnati.com, and Cleveland.com articles.

Regional Updates, State Updates

State approves tax credits for eight projects expected to bring $377M in total investments

The Tax Credit Authority recently approved tax incentives totaling approximately $17.7 million for eight projects that could bring $377 million in investments and 3,792 new jobs to Ohio, Gongwer reports. The “proposals brought forward by JobsOhio” include “two new warehouse sites for e-commerce giant Amazon (see our September 8, 2017 blog post)” in North Randall and Monroe that would create 2,000 and 1,000 new jobs, respectively, according to the article. Other recipients include Joseph Manufacturing Company, Inc.’s project that is expected to create “287 full-time positions, generating $7.8 million in new annual payroll,” and Workstream, Inc.’s project that would “create 45 full-time positions, generating $1.4 million in new annual payroll.” Silfex, Inc. “expects to create 400 full-time positions” totaling $20.7 in new annual payroll (see our September 7, 2017 blog post). Synova, LLC expects to add 20 full-time positions; Fresh Unlimited, Inc. plans to add 25; and Beach Communications, LLC expects to create 15.

Financial Incentives, JobsOhio/ODSA, Regional Updates, State Updates
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