Reynoldsburg City Council approved an ordinance Monday authorizing creation of an incentive program for commercial and industrial employers in hopes of attracting more business to the city.

Reynoldsburg City Council approved an ordinance Monday authorizing creation of an incentive program for commercial and industrial employers in hopes of attracting more business to the city.

Also included in the approval was the creation of an incentive advisory board to review applications and make recommendations to council on each one.

"This is basically asking council permission to offer incentives to companies that potentially are interested in locating in Reynoldsburg," development director Lucas Haire said. "It's something that allows Reynoldsburg to become competitive with other surrounding communities that are offering incentives, such as Gahanna and New Albany."

He said there are approximately 150,000 square feet of vacant office space in the city and having a program like this will help attract tenants.

"It's good for the city because it will raise the occupancy rate on offices and make us competitive with surrounding communities to provide employment base and tax base for a community," he said.

Haire said there are no specific standards for the incentives but the legislation approved Monday allows the development department to negotiate each case individually, based on the company and what it will bring to the city -- "the number of employees the company will have, the payroll, what benefits it will bring to the city," Haire said.

He said there are a number of different incentives that can be offered, including cash grants to help offset relocation/moving costs or credits based on income taxes paid.

Haire said each program would be custom-tailored to each employer.

The incentive advisory board will be made up of Haire, Mayor Brad McCloud, city auditor Richard Harris, and two council members expected to be named when council reconvenes after its August recess.

Haire said the advisory board will meet as necessary. When applications come in from prospective businesses, the advisory board will meet and review each one.

"Reynoldsburg has a significant amount of vacant office space. We have to do something to get tenants into these aging office centers and make them competitive with other communities," Haire said.

"Other communities on the East Side are very aggressive in offering incentives to attract businesses, so if we want to remain competitive and keep those office spaces occupied, we need to offer similar incentives," he said. "This isn't for retail. This is for attracting jobs that will attract a living wage, higher-paying positions that will bring in more tax revenue to the city."

He said employers are always looking for the best deal they can get.

"So for Reynoldsburg to be a competitive location when site selectors look for sites, we need to have competitive incentives available, and that is what this will allow us to do," Haire said.

One way Haire said he plans to get the word out about the incentive program is by using the city's network of commercial Realtors who already have properties listed in Reynoldsburg.

Applications will also be available on the city's Web site at http://www.ci.reynoldsburg.oh.us.