Powell's Community Improvement Corp. began a new economic incentive program in November.

Powell’s Community Improvement Corp. began a new economic incentive program in November.

The CIC entered its first retention incentive agreement with Aeroflex Systems Group Inc. to keep its facility at a leased building at 383 N. Liberty Road. The business has been in the city since 1987 and at its current site since 1998.

City development director Dave Betz told ThisWeek he and development planner Eric Fischer learned the company was considering leaving the city.

“They currently rent the facility in Powell and had considered moving to Westerville to a building that had property tax abatement that went along with it,” Betz said.

Betz and Fischer looked at the opportunity the company would receive in Westerville and approached the CIC about offering a retention incentive.

“Basically, we are providing to Aeroflex an income tax offset payment of 25 percent for all retained jobs and 33 percent of all newly created jobs for five years, up to a maximum of $15,000 per year,” Betz said. “Aeroflex agrees that they will sign a lease for a minimum of five years at their current location.”

Aeroflex’s 19,903-square-foot facility produces synthetic high-speed test and measurement systems for RF and microwave applications, Betz said.

Aeroflex officials did not return a telephone call by press time.

“It was good work by the development department to recognize this and get the CIC involved and make something like this happen,” said Jim Hrivnak, city council and CIC board member, at a November development committee meeting. “It would have been a real blow. They could have easily left town without us talking to them.”

The Aeroflex facility has 28 professional positions, a number that may grow in coming years, Hrivnak said.

“Every time we try to encourage someone to move here, they’re leaving somewhere else, so it makes perfect sense that we would need a retention program if someone were trying to be lured away from us,” he said.

Some cities have used retention programs to help a business that might otherwise close its doors to remain viable, Betz said.

Business- and job-retention programs can offer monetary incentives or city services, help businesses find land, offer flexibility through the development plan and zoning process without the loss of community standards, or find training opportunities.

“The Powell Community Improvement Corp. (CIC) was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) corporation on Feb. 16, 2010, as allowed by the Ohio Revised Code,” the city website says. “The purpose of the Powell CIC is to promote the industrial, commercial, distribution and research development within the city of Powell that will improve the normal growth, employment opportunities and stability of employment within these sectors.”