Almost nine months after rejecting a pact by central Ohio municipalities focusing on regional economic development, Westerville City Council passed a resolution Dec. 4 saying it supports the spirit of that agreement.
The pact was the work of the Central Ohio Mayors and Managers Association, which has been discussing for 18 months how central Ohio cities can better work together to attract and retain business.
Last December, Westerville joined nine other communities in signing letters of intent to participate in an anti-poaching deal, saying they would not use local tax breaks to lure the relocation of companies located in other central Ohio municipalities.
However, Westerville ultimately did not sign the final agreement released in March, which City Manager Dave Collinsworth said went beyond what originally had been discussed and created an 18-month moratorium forbidding pact participants from offering economic incentives to local companies.
Of the 14 communities that helped create the pact, seven have signed: Bexley, Columbus, Gahanna, Groveport, Grandview Heights, Hilliard and Worthington. In addition to Westerville, Canal Winchester, Dublin, Grove City, New Albany, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington and Whitehall have not.
Westerville is following Upper Arlington's example. The city passed a resolution supporting the agreement in October.
Though the city could not sign on to the pact in full, it does include important aspects of regional economic growth, such as shared services and collaboration on economic development initiatives, Collinsworth said.
The resolution passed by council is meant to show Westerville's neighboring communities that the city does back the spirit of cooperation, Collinsworth said.
"We were not 100 percent in agreement with (the pact), but the principles behind the agreement we are in agreement with," Collinsworth told council. "We will collaborate and cooperate with our neighbors in the region."
The resolution fits with the principles council supported when it approved the letter of intent for the agreement last year, Collinsworth said.
While the city won't agree to a moratorium on tax incentives, the city does not and will not use incentives to lure businesses from neighboring municipalities, Collinsworth said.
The resolution sets forth that the city will cooperate with spirit of agreement and will continue to pursue collaboration with its peer communities, Collinsworth said.
Council unanimously approved the resolution.
"Regional cooperation is very important," said council Chairman Mike Heyeck.