RG Barry, Pickerington's largest corporate resident, is expected to call the city home for the foreseeable future thanks to a proposed new development agreement with the city.

The company, founded in the Columbus area in 1947, is a leading developer and marketer of accessory brands of footwear, handbags and comfort inserts.

RG Barry Corp. officials recently advised city officials the company's corporate headquarters at 13405 Yarmouth Drive in Pickerington is in need of substantial building repairs and upgrades.

Pickerington City Manager Bill Vance said those concerns prompted the city to take action to ensure the company continues to call Pickerington home.

"Pickerington leadership realized that a successful and internationally respected company like RG Barry will always have new facility opportunities available to them," Vance said.

Pickerington City Council's Finance Committee voted 6-0 Nov. 8 to approve a draft proposal that will require the city to provide RG Barry with $400,000 to help pay for the upgrades. City Councilman Mike Sabatino did not attend the meeting at which the vote was taken.

In exchange for the $400,000, RG Barry will agree to stay in Pickerington for the next 15 years and increase its workforce from its current roster of 100 employees to 120 employees within the next six years.

Pickerington Development Director Liberty Schindel said the proposal, drafted with the help of Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray, represents the city's very first job retention and expansion grant.

Schindel said the development agreement will be forwarded to City Council for approval at three separate legislative readings.

"Assuming that it passes, the agreement will be effective Jan. 18, (2018) and the city will be able to sign the agreement and issue the funds," she said.

Vance said the proposed development agreement provides that if RG Barry should move its operations out of Pickerington prior to the expiration of 15-year window, the company will reimburse the city for the entire $400,000 grant.

"This agreement is expected to be executed by both parties prior to the conclusion of 2017," Vance said.

"Once executed, (Pickerington) is projected to receive general fund (tax) revenues from RG Barry operations exceeding $1.5 million by the conclusion of 15 years."

Vance said keeping RG Barry and its 100 jobs with another 20 jobs added in the near future will greatly benefit the city given Pickerington survives primarily on income tax revenues.

"Property taxes on a $200,000 home in Pickerington generate $400 (annually) for the city compared to $2,900 for Pickerington schools," Vance said.

He said Pickerington's last property tax or income tax rate increase was in 2000 and it's 1-percent income tax is the lowest of any major Columbus suburb.

"Pickerington losing the corporate jobs that RG Barry provides our community had to be avoided," Vance said.