Enterprise zone gains another supporter

COLUMBIANA – State Rep. Nick Barborak is supporting the city’s effort to establish an enterprise zone for economic development purposes.

Earlier this month Barborak notified the city he wrote a letter to David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), encouraging their support for the zone, which, if created, would offer tax incentives to non-retail businesses looking to locate to Columbiana or to existing businesses looking to expand.

The exemptions are only on new property and business taxes created by the project and are tied directly to the job creation that would result. Businesses located in a zone must apply for the benefits through the city, and the city is not obligated to enter into any agreements with a business simply because they are located in a zone.

City Council began discussing an enterprise zone in May, with City Manager Lance Willard saying it would be a good economic development tool.

Council later approved creating the zone, which will encompass the entire Columbiana County portion of the city, and it will be established if it receives approval from the ODSA.

Columbiana County Commissioners also signed off on the zone in late July, also a requirement before a zone can be established.

In his letter to Goodman, Barborak said the city has the potential for attracting new business and an enterprise zone would help move that along.

“Numerous businesses have already voiced their support for the creation of the enterprise zone and have began to make preliminary plans for creating new jobs and facilities in the city,” he wrote. “As our state continues to climb out of the recession, it is imperative that the state supports Ohio businesses and job creation. The creation of the enterprise zone in Columbiana will do just that.”

The ODSA has 60 days from the time of commissioner approval to act on the zone.

Duane Reichard of Reichard Industries and Bob Bertelson of A Plus Powder Coaters of Columbiana have both approached council voicing their support for the zone, which would benefit their businesses that are both planning to expand.

Willard said on Friday he has not heard back from the OSDA yet, although the agency has until around September to respond.

In other city matters, council has decided to move forward with saving money on refinancing bonds taken out for sewer service to the undeveloped property near the Firestone Farms housing development.

The city took out the roughly $7 million bonds in 2005, has paid $400,000 a year the last few years and still owes $3.6 million. The bonds mature in 2025 and refinancing will save $178,000 for the duration of the bond term, according to Mike Burns, director of Robert W. Baird and Co.

Burns recently told Council that of the 16 different banks he solicited, six were interested in refinancing the bonds and one bank has given a “solid commitment,” that is only verbal at this point.

“They see no financial risk to the city. In all, I think it is very successful pricing,” he added.

A final commitment should be in hand next week, he said.

Council approved the refinancing by emergency legislation during the latest meeting.