In 2012, New Albany continued to build its reputation as one of central Ohio's premier destinations for new businesses, but it also experienced its first significant rite of passage since achieving city status last year.

In 2012, New Albany continued to build its reputation as one of central Ohio's premier destinations for new businesses, but it also experienced its first significant rite of passage since achieving city status last year.

New Albany's first collective bargaining contract with its police officers was approved by New Albany City Council on May 15.

"It was a first for both sides and definitely a new learning experience for most of us," city spokesman Scott McAfee said.

Union negotiations began in 2011 after the 2010 census determined New Albany's population exceeded 5,000, allowing the village to become a city. The population listed in the 2010 census was 7,724.

According to the State Employment Relations Board , a public employer, which can negotiate with unions, includes "any political subdivision of the state located entirely within the state, including, without limitation, any municipal corporation with a population of at least 5,000 according to the most recent federal decennial census."

The contract with New Albany's 12 police officers, represented by Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, included a 2.5-percent wage increase for 2012, a 3-percent increase in 2013 and a 3.5-percent increase in 2014.

The contract includes a provision to change the step-increase system. For the first step level, new officers will earn base salaries of $46,000 instead of $48,732. The wage increases will apply to the other four steps, which previously were: step two, $52,629.62; step three, $56,764.24; step four, $61,329.42; and step five, $67,639.10.

According the city, all 12 officers in the union are at the highest step level, which means they earned $69,330.08 in 2012 with the 2.5-percent increase.

Future increases will be calculated on top of the prior year's increase, which means all officers will earn approximately $71,409.98 in 2013 and $73,909.33 in 2014.

Officers still are eligible for overtime under the contract. The city paid $59,508.70 in overtime to the officers in 2011, giving them an average compensation of $72,598 in 2011.

The police department has a total of 16 personnel, including Chief Mark Chaney -- who last month announced his plans to retire in 2013 -- and three sergeants. The chief is not eligible to be represented by a union. The sergeants are, but they did not ask the union to represent them, according to a representative from Capital City Lodge No. 9.

Although not a historic first for New Albany, but no less important to its 2012 accomplishments and future goals, city officials welcomed several new businesses and expansions, both of which will help provide income-tax and some property-tax revenues for the city.

"It's been an amazing five years: In an economic downturn, we've set all kinds of records," Mayor Nancy Ferguson said.

Since 2009, the city has added more than 4,000 new jobs, 2,500 of which are new to Ohio, McAfee said.

"Creating jobs inside New Albany borders is the single most important component of our community's long-term financial health," said City Manager Joseph Stefanov. "Those who work in New Albany pay local income taxes to our city no matter where they live.

"Local income taxes paid by those who work in New Albany account for roughly 75 percent of the city's general-fund revenues to provide police protection, snow removal, leaf collection, road maintenance and other city services.

"This is especially important because the city receives roughly 2 percent of the total property taxes paid by residents and business partners, most of whom live in New Albany but work outside city boundaries and do not pay income taxes to New Albany."

The city also shares income-tax revenue with the three local school districts that have boundaries in the city's business parks. The city shares 35 percent of the income-tax revenue collected from its business parks with New Albany-Plain Local, Johnstown-Monroe or Licking Heights Local school districts.

Thirty percent goes to the New Albany Community Authority, to pay off debt the authority incurred in building infrastructure for the business campuses; the remaining 35 percent goes into the general fund.

"Our partner school districts also benefit from these companies in multiple ways," Stefanov said. "First, the city shares income-tax revenues generated in the business park with those districts. Second, from a land-use perspective, the 3,000-acre business park decreases the number of potential roof-tops, and students, in our schools."

Many of the businesses obtain property-tax and income-tax breaks through the city and state for the creation of new jobs. But city officials say the benefits offset lost revenue.

"Our business park produces a multiplier effect that creates more new jobs and services within the community," Stefanov said. "The 12,000 people working in the business park have helped us to attract retail businesses, restaurants and other service providers that communities with populations below 8,000 do not normally attract.

"These business partners also make our community stronger by participating in and contributing to our local chamber of commerce, schools, the New Albany Community Foundation and other civic organizations."

The following businesses decided this year to locate or expand in New Albany:

* Sonoco Plastics will build a $14.6-million, 120,000-square-foot packaging manufacturing facility on 10 acres in the city's Personal Care and Beauty Campus. The project is expected to create 60 new employees.

* Arminak and Associates, which manufactures plastic packaging, will occupy 65,000 square feet in a 300,000-square-foot speculative production facility built by the Pizutti Cos. in the Personal Care and Beauty Campus. The project is expected to create 50 new jobs.

* Venture Therapeutics will build a pharmaceutical research-and-development facility east of 8000 Walton Parkway. The company is expected to add 110 jobs in five years, with a $5.5 million annual payroll. The company will invest an estimated $21 million in the facility.

* Maxwell Financial Management, which does financial planning, outgrew its site at 330 W. Wilson Bridge Road in Worthington and moved its six employees into a 2,700-square-foot space in 6530 W. Campus Oval.

* Discover Financial Services expanded its operations center in New Albany to add 162 new jobs to the 1,537 working at the call center at the southwest corner of New Albany Road East and New Albany-Condit Road. The company will build a 97,000-square-foot data center on the north side of the building. The project will increase the company's $65 million annual payroll by $7.5 million, according to estimates from the city.

* Magnanni, a Spanish men's shoe company with its U.S. office on Zarley Street, will build a 15,000- square-foot building on 2.15 acres in the Personal Care and Beauty Campus, north of state Route 161 and east of Beech Road.

* SARCOM, an information-technology solutions company based in Lewis Center, will build a single-story 20,000-square-foot building in the research-and-information district off Central College Road. The project will create five new jobs with an annual payroll of $280,000.

* Sedgwick Claims Management Services will open an office in 34,000 square feet of space at 7400 Campus Drive in the Central College business campus. The company is expected have 240 full-time employees with a $9.1 million annual payroll within three years, according to city estimates.

* Hilliard-based e-Cycle, a technology-recycling company, will move its operations center to 7777 Walton Parkway in New Albany. Thirty employees are expected to move with the operations center and 70 will remain at the distribution center on Leap Road in Hilliard.

* IQor, a company that handles customer-service issues and outsourcing, will bring 800 jobs to New Albany when it moves into the one-story New Albany Center of Technology building on West Campus Road, built by the Daimler Group and the New Albany Co.

Several other businesses started construction or opened in New Albany in 2012, including Bob Evans Farms, which broke ground off Smith's Mill Road for its new 175,000-square-foot headquarters.

New Albany's first hotel, a Courtyard by Marriott, also was built on Forest Drive. The 122-room, four-story building is slated to open at the end of this month.

The past year also included several facelifts for the city.

The second phase of street improvements began this year and will continue into 2013.

The improvements include widening Main Street between High and Third streets, adding a turning lane and on-street parking.

New street lights and sidewalks, with the brick curbs approved by the Americans With Disabilities Act, will make the road match previous improvements on parts of Main and High streets in the first phase of the program.

The project is expected to cost $1.8 million and the city is working with American Electric Power to bury the utility lines in that area.

The city is receiving $350,000 in grants from the Ohio Public Works Commission and no-interest loans for the project.

The city is trying to upgrade all streets in the city center to make them look uniform, with the same brick sidewalks, street trees and lighting, Stefanov said.

A project at the corner of Market Street and Johnstown Road (U.S. Route 62) also could drastically change the appearance of the city center. New Albany, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Healthy New Albany announced a plan last fall to partner on a $9-million health facility at the intersection. The proposed facility could include an outpatient medical center and community wellness services.

The city and many other local organizations typically host events each year and 2012 was no different.

In August, the Pelotonia bicycle tour, a cancer research fundraiser started by cancer survivor and New Albany resident Tom Lennox, ended most of its race routes in New Albany for the first time. The event attracted more than 6,000 riders and raised more than $15 million for cancer research.

The New Albany Walking Classic on Sept. 16 again featured 3,000 participants and raised money for the local nonprofit organization, Healthy New Albany.

One week later, the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix and Family Day was held Sept. 23 at the Leslie and Abigail Wexner estate, featuring an internationally sanctioned horse jumping invitational with family-friendly entertainment and activities. It raised more than $1 million for the Center for Family Safety and Healing. Abigail Wexner founded the event in 1998.

This year's event featured a local rider: 17-year-old Gabriela Mershad.

Last month, the New Albany Community Foundation's fundraiser, A Remarkable Evening, held Nov. 29 on the Wexner estate, raised $2 million -- twice as much as last year. The keynote speaker was former President Bill Clinton.

In conjunction with the event, local students raised $25,000 to help establish a fishing business at a Haitian orphanage. They gave the money to Paul Farmer, a doctor who helped found Partners in Health, an organization that provides health care for impoverished people on four continents.