Published: Thursday, April 12, 2007
Warren council OKs business incentives
Incentives would reward businesses for upgrading vacant buildings.
BY AMANDA GARRETT
WARREN City council approved a business incentives package that city leaders hope will be the first step in revitalizing Warren's downtown.
Robert Holmes, D-4th, chairman of council's downtown revitalization committee, along with six other council members, sponsored legislation designed to attract and maintain businesses downtown.
"Hopefully, we can overcome our past and become a business-friendly city," said Alford L. Novak, D-2nd, at Wednesday night's council meeting.
Novak, along with Fiore Dippolito, D-1st, Susan Hartman, D-7th, Andrew Barkley, D-3rd, Vincent Flask, D-5th and Robert L. Dean Jr., D-at large, signed onto the legislation.
Members of Warren GROWs (Grassroots Revitalization of Warren) and the Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corporation presented council members with the package of reimbursements, tax credits and discounts in November.
The incentives are property tax reimbursements, a tax credit based on profits, discounts for building permits, and discounts for sewer and water tap-ins.
The incentives will be awarded based on certain criteria, including how many employees each business has and how much owners have invested in the property.
Businesses occupying a building that has been vacant for at least three months will receive greater incentives, according to the legislation.
Grants, loans, tax breaks
In addition, the plan calls for the city to offer grants and loans for facade improvements and tax abatements.
The city would have a fund for the grants of $5,000 per business; the maximum amount of grants the city could offer would be $75,000 annually.
Warren Mayor Michael J. O'Brien said he believes the incentives package will increase potential business owners' interest in downtown.
"We've already got the historical buildings downtown. This piece of legislation levels the playing field," O'Brien said. "People say build it and they will come, well this is incentivize it and they will come."
Council will need to pass more legislation to implement the specifics of the incentives package, Holmes said.
In other business, council approved the appointment of Atty. Charles E. Ohlin to replace state Rep. Tom Letson, D-Warren, on the Warren City Board of Health.
"It's a difficult position to fill," O'Brien said.
"There's no compensation, and often times there's a lot of negative publicity involved with the job."
In Letson's 2006 race against then-incumbent Republican Randy Law, most voters received four political fliers from Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett criticizing Letson for a 2002 vote he cast as a health board member regarding licensing of the Warren Recycling landfill.