Upper Arlington News

Council OKs 'large' grant for construction firm


Upper Arlington City Council agreed Monday, Sept. 24, to extend a business grant to help an Ohio construction company upgrade and expand its local offices.

Council unanimously approved providing up to $275,000 in incentives to Thomas & Marker Construction, based in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

The funds, according to Upper Arlington Community and Economic Development Manager Bob Lamb, will help the company hire more personnel and expand its facilities at 2011 Riverside Drive, Suite 400.

Specifically, city officials said, the incentives will assist Thomas & Marker grow from a local 14-person staff in a 14,000-square-foot facility to a 25-person operation in a 15,020-square-foot office.

As a result, the city expects to see annual collections in payroll and property taxes from Thomas & Marker increase from the $10,000 Upper Arlington currently receives to $65,000.

"In the past, a quarter-million-dollar (incentive) request would've made us nervous," Upper Arlington City Councilman Erik Yassenoff said. "I don't think we would've seen this kind of innovative and aggressive (pursuit) of economic development in the past."

Thomas & Marker began operations at the Upper Arlington office in June.

Earlier this month, Lamb said the incentive deal means the company will receive five annual payments of $55,000 as long as it generates $65,000 a year in payroll and property taxes.

"If they don't meet that $65,000 measure, we won't pay them," Lamb said earlier.

As long as performance measures are met, the city expects to collect the $275,000 it will out over the next 10 years.

The incentive was described by Lamb as a "large" business grant because of the amount of money it's expected to return in payroll and property taxes to the city and the Upper Arlington School District.

"We separate between large business and small business grants," he said. "Small business grants have really been in that $10,000 to $25,000 range."

Over the 10 years of the agreement, Lamb said, the company is expected to produce another $450,000 to $500,000 in new payroll and property tax revenue for the city, as well as about $500,000 in new property taxes for the Upper Arlington school district.

In other action Monday, council heard the first reading of legislation proposed by City Attorney Jeanine Amid Hummer that would make texting while driving in the city a primary offense. However, council did not take action on the matter, and no council members commented on the proposal.

By making it a primary offense, police would have the authority to pull over drivers who they see texting while driving. Currently, state law defines texting while driving as a secondary offense, and meaning officers can only ticket a driver for texting if that driver has been stopped for committing a primary offense, such as speeding or driving left of center.

Council is expected to hear a second and final reading of the legislation during its Oct. 8 meeting, slated for 7:30 p.m. at Upper Arlington City Hall.