Gahanna development director Anthony Jones asked council to authorize the mayor to enter into a regional economic-development agreement (REDA) that encourages the use of financial incentives to attract new jobs and investment and prohibits the use of financial incentives to lure jobs from another central Ohio community.

Gahanna development director Anthony Jones asked council to authorize the mayor to enter into a regional economic-development agreement (REDA) that encourages the use of financial incentives to attract new jobs and investment and prohibits the use of financial incentives to lure jobs from another central Ohio community.

Since January 2011, Jones said, 10 central Ohio local governments have been working to establish a partnership with two overarching goals: to increase efficiencies and save money through shared services and to cease "job poaching" efforts. The communities have been meeting regularly to formalize the partnership.

Participating municipalities have included Bexley, Columbus, Gahanna, Grandview Heights, Grove City, Groveport, Hilliard, New Albany, Obetz, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington and Worthington, according to Dan Williamson, spokesman for Coleman's office, and not all of them are officially on board yet. Canal Winchester and Whitehall were invited, as well.

The group is working with three additional Franklin County jurisdictions to join the agreement and will invite additional jurisdictions in neighboring central Ohio counties to join in the future, Williamson said. The participating executives will ask their city councils to approve legislation ratifying the agreement by the end of May.

During a March 21 press conference at Columbus City Hall, Mayor Michael Coleman said all but four involved local municipalities have agreed with the 18-month moratorium, which seeks to end the practice of offering tax incentives to lure companies away from one city to another.

Essentially, the accord levels the playing field for all of central Ohio and keeps companies from pitting one city against the other to barter the best deal, Coleman said. Also, according to the agreement, when a company seeks a tax incentive from one municipality, it is required to communicate the offer to others, Coleman said.

Coleman said he felt the cooperation would only strengthen central Ohio, instead of diluting the work pool by spreading it out to the highest bidders. It would not affect tax incentives being offered to companies looking to stay in their respective cities, he said.

Gahanna Mayor Becky Stinchcomb told Gahanna City Council on March 19 that 15 Franklin County governments have agreed to use economic development incentives to bring new jobs and new investment to the region rather than move existing jobs from one jurisdiction to another.

Jones said partnering jurisdictions would meet quarterly or as needed to assess the status of the implementation of the REDA and determine the need for future refinement.

The REDA term is from June 1, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2013, with the ability to be renewed for four consecutive, one-year terms.

Council member David Samuel asked what would happen if a jurisdiction violates the agreement.

Stinchcomb said no financial penalty would be involved if a community violates the terms of the agreement. "We asked if there should be a penalty; then we thought if all partners adopt (the agreement), they would be breaking their own law," she said. "This is an 18-month trial period. It's unprecedented in this area."