In February 2007, Whirlpool Corporation, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of appliances, expressed a desire to the city of Columbus to build a distribution center near Rickenbacker International Airport.
Whirlpool would invest approximately a total of $162.8 million into the project that would take up 1.6 million square foot in a complex off Shook Road.
The center would bring 300 new jobs to the Rickenbacker area and all seemed fine with the plan, but a portion of the 101-acre site is in the village of Obetz.
Columbus City Council was asked to consider a side-agreement with Obetz. At the Jan. 28 Obetz Village Council meeting, council approved annexing their portion of the property on Rohr Road to Columbus.
"They want to adjust the boundary and put a small part into Columbus, which will allow then to complete their project with Whirlpool," said Obetz Mayor E. Rod Davisson. "In return for that agreement, they would get rid of the 50 percent income tax on the large piece of property."
Columbus would acquire the municipal income taxes generated from the Whirlpool site, while the village would get all of the income taxes generated from the now defunct Continental Tire Company distribution site on Rohr Road.
That piece is designated as a Community Reinvestment Area (CRA).
According to the Ohio Department of Development, a CRA is a direct incentive property tax exemption program.
"They have to have the tax abatements in place before they start building the building," Davisson said.
The CRA program allows municipalities to deem areas where investments have been discouraged so it will attract businesses and encourage revitalization.
"I think this deal is simply a great solution for two reasons," said Davisson. "The first is it gives 100 percent of income tax in Obetz and it gives Columbus the opportunity to attract a great company and add jobs to benefit the entire region. It’s the consummate win-win agreement."
Development for the 1.6 million square foot distribution center is tentatively scheduled to be completed in the fall.
More room for business
Council passed a development plan from Capitol City Trailers Inc. (CCT) pertaining to the company’s storage of semi-trucks on a 6.5 acre vacant lot along Groveport Road.
Council believes that the aesthetics of the area will be in efficient hands.
"I believe they will make the property look good and it should be beautiful soon," Davisson said.
"For the last 10 years, we used remote storage lots for our supplies and would have to drive potential buyers off-site to look at the trucks," said Buck Stewart, president of CCT.
The company, which sells full-line semi-trucks, has been in business since 1994.
"You could say we’re the Ricart Ford of semi-trucks," joked Stewart.
CCT originally started business in Grove City, but moved to Obetz in 1997. They keep most of the semi-trailers at their old site in Grove City.
From the road, you will not be able to see the trailers that will be in the storage lot. In the front of the complex, there will be a six-foot vinyl fence, with an eight-foot chain link fence in the back for further shielding. The site will also feature new shrubbery, such as evergreen trees to make the area more presentable.
"Because council passed this rezoning as an emergency, it shows that council is committed to help businesses expand in Obetz," said Stacey Boumis, community services director.
Stewart added engineers are working on the improved drawings for the lot and they will start construction as soon as possible.