Rocky Fork Enterprise

Council considers funding for city CIC

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Gahanna’s Community Improvement Corp. (CIC) plans to launch an economic development strategy that would feature an entrepreneur center, fiber-optic business incentive program and business attraction and retention services.

Gahanna development director Anthony Jones presented the strategy to Gahanna City Council on April 9 before requesting legislation that would appropriate $350,000 from the Urban Redevelopment Tax Increment Equivalent Fund to the Gahanna CIC.

Council member Brandon Wright recommended to the finance and development committee last month that the city provide the CIC with money from the fund.

Jones said the Gahanna CIC is designated as an agency of the city for industrial, economic, civic, commercial, distribution and research development in the city. Its mission is to promote innovative economic development and civic enhancements through strategic initiatives for the benefit of the Gahanna community.

He said the establishment of the entrepreneur center at 181 Granville St. is estimated to cost $150,000 and would spur entrepreneurial activity.

The center would be similar in concept to those in Dublin, New Albany, Marysville, Powell and Westerville, but it would be targeted to businesses and individuals in Gahanna.

The goal of the center would be to provide office space at below-market rates for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The office space would include free utilities, access to broadband through GahannaNet, Wi-Fi and conference-room facilities. Tenants also would have access to business assistance programs and training offered by TechColumbus and the Small Business Development Center.

Within two years of receiving funding, Jones said, the CIC would work aggressively to add five new businesses to the center, generating $1,500 in monthly rental income for the CIC. Six business-training programs and events would be held, targeting 150 business attendees. A consistent schedule would be developed for Gahanna businesses and entrepreneurs to receive one-on-one business development services.

Jones said the fiber-network piece of the strategy called GahannaNet is estimated to cost $100,000.

In 2010, Gahanna’s council authorized the CIC to use 48 strands of fiber-optic cable to establish GahannaNet business incentives. The CIC then partnered with technology service provider Bluemile to implement GahannaNet, a business incentive program that allows Gahanna businesses to access more than 190 technology service providers at below-market rates.

Council member David Samuel asked why he should have GahannaNet, if he would start a business in the city.

“You would have access to (190) carriers competing for your services at reduced costs,” Jones said.

He said the CIC has a two-pronged strategy, at a cost of $100,000, to implement the business attraction and retention services component.

Jones said a marketing plan would establish an economic development brand, capturing the competitive advantage of Gahanna. The brand would be used in strategic ad placement, direct mailings and in an aggressive online presence.

Business attraction and retention projects would incorporate monetary and/or nonmonetary project assistance.

Jones said the CIC and the city would collaborate to identify business attraction and retention projects, and program guidelines would be established to identify those projects.

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