The Canal Winchester Times

Avnet consolidation will cost Groveport 300 jobs

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Avnet Inc.'s plans to consolidate its Columbus region operations at one site in Obetz over the next three years will mean the loss of approximately 300 jobs in Groveport.

Avnet, a worldwide distributor of computer and embedded technology products and services, currently operates out of three facilities in Groveport and one in Grove City.

Obetz Village Administrator Rod Davisson said Avnet will be located in the village's Center Point Business Park off of Toy Road.

"It'll be in a new building that's yet to be built," he said.

Davisson said Obetz is offering Avnet a 12-year incentives package worth about $12.1 million. It includes real estate tax abatements, income tax incentives based on the new jobs and discounts on fees.

"It's an excellent deal for the village," Davisson said.

Jeff Green, Groveport's assistant city administrator, said the city was anticipating that Avnet would expand its locations on Commerce Center Drive and Port Road and had been in talks with Avnet about incentives to stay.

A community reinvestment tax abatement with the company had expired, and Groveport officials were proposing a 50-percent tax abatement for seven years, Green said.

"We did all we could," he said. "Some things are just out of your control ... and there's no choice but to accept the decision and move on."

At last count, Green said, the company had 300 employees in Groveport and was occupying about 400,000 square feet total.

"We hate to lose them," he said. "Hopefully, we'll have someone moving in as soon as they move out."

While losing Avnet is a blow, especially the loss of higher-paying technology and engineering jobs, Green said he doesn't anticipate it will be devastating to Groveport, which he said will have a business vacancy rate of about 4 percent once Avnet leaves.

Green said he would anticipate a similar electronic or technology company taking over the space now used by Avnet because the infrastructure and investment in the buildings are perfect for that field.

In a press release issued by Columbus 2020, Avnet Services Senior Vice President Bill Wentworth said the decision to consolidate was a "strategic move" as the company invests in the region.

"It makes sense for our employees to be in one location," he said. "The region is able to accommodate this move with a facility designed for our business and easy access to a workforce to support our business growth."

Avnet plans to add 300 new positions, which is the basis for a job-creation tax credit the company will receive from the state, said Patty Huddle, vice president of existing business solutions for Columbus 2020.

"If they don't create the jobs, there is no incentive," she said.

Huddle said Columbus 2020 helped Avnet consider its options when the company decided to consolidate. Originally, she said, Avnet was considering moving out of the region in order to meet its labor needs.

"Through our research, we were able to demonstrate (the Columbus region) had the labor they needed," Huddle said. "This is really a great opportunity for Ohio and the Columbus region."

Avnet's Grove City facility occupies about 189,000 square feet of office space.

"You never like to lose a company," City Administrator Chuck Boso said. "(But) we don't have a structure large enough in Grove City to fulfill their needs that's available."

According to a relocation letter sent to Boso by Avnet Services Vice President of Operations Timothy J. Harper, the Grove City center, which will be relocated in the first quarter of 2014, has 51 employees with approximately $1.3 million in related payroll.

With Grove City's income tax rate of 2 percent, that would result in anannual income tax revenue of $26,000.

Boso said Grove City will make the development and real estate community aware of the available space but is confident the property owner, Prologis, will find a market for it.

"Their marketing tools are much greater than ours," Boso said. "Hopefully, someone will move into that facility that has an even greater payroll."

Huddle said Columbus 2020 will work with its partners to fill the available properties.

"We will continue to work with those partners to get those properties back to good use," she said.

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