Central Ohio mayors and city managers were expected to announce on March 21 that they have reached a consensus on the principles that would be encompassed by an economic development agreement.

Central Ohio mayors and city managers announced on March 21 that they have reached a consensus on the principles that would be encompassed by an economic development agreement.

Columbus and area suburbs had signed a letter of intent in December to curtail what's referred to as "job poaching," or the practice of enticing companies to move jobs across municipal lines.

Participating municipalities now include 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. 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.

At a press conference at City Hall, Columbus 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.

The four holdouts are Westerville, Dublin, Canal Winchester and Whitehall. Coleman said Dublin and Westerville were working in good faith but indicated the other two were not on board.

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.

"By doing so, our municipalities will focus on growing our region's economy, not taking jobs from one another," she said.

The proposed agreement must go through the normal legislative process for all communities that are involved in the partnership.

"I am pleased with the progress made by the central Ohio community because when we (entice) businesses to jump around the region, no jurisdiction wins," Stinchcomb said.

Stinchcomb said she also had planned to sign an agreement allowing for shared fleet-maintenance services, as well as a letter opposing the state's efforts to centralize income-tax collection.

For more on this story, see the March 29 edition of ThisWeek.