Gahanna's Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) plans to foster business development with invitations to future meetings.

Gahanna's Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) plans to foster business development with invitations to future meetings.

Karen McClain, CIC marketing chairperson, said the purpose would be to keep a focus on supporting and developing businesses that already are in the Gahanna community.

"We can learn a great deal about their needs through this interaction," she said. "We will start by focusing on the top 10 businesses and then work out from there."

During the CIC's Sept. 21 meeting, Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said the top 10 employers in the city in alphabetical order are AEP, the city of Gahanna, Columbus Academy, Columbus Southern Power, Donatos Pizza, Gahanna-Jefferson schools, Grant Riverside Medical Care Center, the state of Ohio, the Kroger Co. and McGraw-Hill.

The idea for the new initiative was developed after the CIC discussed the recent success of its "meet and greet" on Sept. 17 with CarePoint at Gahanna, consisting of Ohio State University family practice physicians, 920 North Hamilton Road.

Development director Sadicka White said the facility brings about 500 people through its doors every day.

When CarePoint opened in December 2009, its goal was to create 70 jobs over a three-year period, according to White. It has surpassed that goal by already expanding to about 130 jobs and is continuing to grow, she said.

In other discussion last week, CIC member Tom Kneeland said TechColumbus has requested that the city partner with it.

"It's more of a CIC initiative," he said. "TechColumbus is a nonprofit that works to develop a technology business incubator."

According to its website, TechColumbus was formed through the merger of the Columbus Technology Council, the leading membership organization for tech-based and tech-enabled businesses in central Ohio, and the Business Technology Center, regarded as one of the country's top 10 technology business incubators.

In 2006, TechColumbus was awarded a grant by Ohio's Third Frontier program, for a $22.5-million program called TechStart. The program provides coaching and mentoring services as well as funding programs to early-stage companies in central Ohio.

Kneeland said there's a $100,000 annual fee to partner with TechColumbus.

"The fee would be $50,000 for half a year," he said. "I was concerned because we don't have revenue coming in yet. Next year if Bluemile comes in the way, I think it should not be a problem. They need a letter of intent in October."

Gahanna's CIC completed a fiber-optics network agreement with Bluemile Inc. of Columbus in August. The deal is expected to generate revenue for the CIC from connectivity fees collected for fiber-optics services through Bluemile.

White calls the fee for TechColumbus "pay to play" and said the benefits would be worth the cost. She cited the successes of TechColumbus' partnerships with Dublin and New Albany.

"We told them the second half of next year would be the earliest," Kneeland said. "We can provide a letter of intent if this is the route we want to go. It's a soft commit. If something happens, we can get out at any time."

The CIC plans to invite TechColumbus representatives to discuss more details during the CIC's Oct. 12 meeting.