July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Businesses sought for Joint Economic Development District

Medina City Council on Monday approved a Joint Economic Development District agreement with Lafayette Township aimed at spurring development of University Center Innovation Park.

For more than a year, Medina County Commissioners have urged creation of the JEDD to lure businesses to the industrial park, along Technology Lane north of state Route 162.

As expected, Monday’s vote was unanimous. Lafayette Township trustees also unanimously passed the agreement at their meeting Monday.

“We’re looking at another tool to motivate someone to bring a new business into the community,” township Trustee Bryon Macron said.

“It’s appealing to some businesses to be part of the city, and now as a township we’re hoping to get some more action down here.”

The JEDD will offer incentives like infrastructure improvements for which potential businesses would otherwise have to pay.

The money for the improvements would come from Medina city’s 1.25 percent income tax collected from employees of businesses in the JEDD and from business taxes.

Twenty percent of tax revenue would go into a maintenance fund to pay for infrastructure improvements. The rest would be split evenly between the city and township.

The city will split its share 60 percent to the economic development office and 40 percent to the city’s general fund.

While the approximately 70-acre park offers tax abatements to lure companies, so far its only occupant is the University of Akron’s Medina County University Center.

The park, owned by the Medina County Port Authority, is part of a Community Reinvestment Area the county and township established in 2012.

The CRA allows up to 50 percent tax abatement for up to 15 years. The actual abatement offered to each business is determined on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s really important to note that all JEDD agreements with the city of Medina are voluntary,” Council President John Coyne said. “Nobody is included in the agreement unless they want to be.”

The township has been leaning toward communications businesses like call centers, but officials in the township and county say they don’t want to exclude manufacturing businesses.

Macron said he and the other trustees don’t want to limit potential business opportunities.

He said township zoning officials are considering ways to rezone the area so that more light industrial and manufacturing businesses may want to call the JEDD home.

“We’re looking to take our 60-page zoning for the area down to 15 pages,” he said. “It’s too much for what we need. Just keep it simple stupid.”

The JEDD still needs the approval of county commissioners and state officials. Macron said that once the contract is submitted to the state, there will be a 30-day public comment period. If there are no objections, the agreement will go into effect.

Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley said he was glad to see the agreement passed and hopes to help the process along.

“It’s good to see it happen, for the two communities to work together and enjoy some of the benefits of economic development and share some of the taxes,” he said.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.