Prairie Township announced the formation of the Prairie Township Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) at the Feb. 10 board of trustees meeting.
The intention of the CIC is to provide grants to local businesses while helping to fund public improvement projects and services in the community.
The CIC would also assist in the redevelopment of underused and blighted land in the West Broad Street Corridor.
This move is a long-anticipated part of the West Broad Street Improvement District project, which was launched in October 2008.
“This is something we have been working on for 4 years and now we are looking at implementing the JEDD (joint economic development district) within 4 months. The timetable will likely be May or June for the city to vote on this,” said township trustee, Steve Kennedy.
The JEDD is a tax revenue sharing partnership with Columbus. It will assist in funding West Broad Street streetscape improvements, law enforcement funding and redevelopment projects. The Prairie Township CIC will be involved in these projects as well.
Township Administrator Tracy Hatmaker said the resolution was necessary “in order to work with businesses that are looking at spring construction and also given the economic circumstances. Times are tough for businesses in the township.”
“This is a better tool than a tax abatement. You’re not taking money from somebody that needs it. It is just a tool to help,” said Kennedy.
Trustees anticipate that the first task of the Prairie Township CIC will be the creation of a Job Creation and Retention Grant (JCRG) program.
This grant, which will be based on the size of a business’ payroll, is intended to help both new and existing businesses in the township by providing funding on an annual basis for an agreed-upon number of years.
“This has the potential to generate revenue and it gives the businesses the tools to maintain and create new positions and get grant opportunities for that. The township would not be fronting the money. Businesses would have to go into it based on their earning revenues of last year,” said Kennedy.
To participate, a business will have to maintain jobs in the township for one and one half times as many years as they receive the grant payments and participate in the JEDD.
Kennedy said businesses will be effectively helping the township to redirect money going to Columbus and put the money towards improving the West Broad Street corridor.
“It is the kind of program that an institution, large or small, would have an incentive to do this,” said Hatmaker.
Businesses that are interested in partnering with the CIC by participating in the JCRG program should call Tracy Hatmaker at 878-3317, extension 114, or e-mail email@example.com