Union County Joint Economic Development Partnership Director Eric Phillips says the creation of enterprise zones is helping bolster development in the county.

Union County Joint Economic Development Partnership Director Eric Phillips says the creation of enterprise zones is helping bolster development in the county.

Enterprise zones, as defined by the Ohio Department of Development, are designated areas of land in which businesses can receive tax incentives in the form of tax exemptions on eligible new investments. They also serve as an additional economic development tool for communities attempting to retain and expand their economic base.

"In the early 1990s, Union County created two enterprise zones in the Marysville and Richwood areas which allow real property tax abatements," Phillips said. "As part of the Enterprise Program, the legislation created the Union County Tax Incentive Review Council (TIRC), which oversees compliance with the program."

Each year, the TIRC reviews each of the enterprise zone tax abatements, which have been approved by the city of Marysville, village of Richwood and the Union County Board of Commissioners.

The TIRC -- comprised of local government officials from Union County, Marysville, Richwood, Marysville Exempted Village School District, North Union Local School District and Fairbanks Local School District -- conducts a thorough analysis of each of the enterprise zone agreements and determines if the company receiving the abatement has satisfied job creation, job retention and investment levels outlined in the original agreements. After its review, the TIRC makes recommendations to each of the approving entities on whether the approved tax abatements should continue, be modified, or be terminated.

"There have been 16 enterprise zone tax abatements approved in Union County, only five of which are currently active," Phillips said.

He said those abatements have created 338 jobs, retained another 608 jobs and generated $36,813,865 in created and retained payroll. They have also led to $72,371,449 in real property investment (new facilities and expansions), $99,073,390 in personal property investment (machinery, equipment, furniture, and inventory) and $171,444,839 in total property investment.

"Collectively, the companies which have received enterprise zone agreements have exceeded many of their pledged amounts in the original agreements," Phillips said. "The results include:

99 more jobs created (additional 41 percent) than originally pledged

More than $12,000,000 more in payroll (additional 45 percent) than originally pledged

Nearly $42,000,000 more in total property investment (additional 32 percent) than originally pledged

"From these observations, it is clear that the Union County Enterprise Zone Program has been successful," Phillips said. "Without these incentives, it is likely that Union County and its respective communities would not have experienced the majority of these business expansions."

Phillips noted Union County is now thinking globally instead of just regionally.

"Union County no longer competes just with other central Ohio communities, but with communities around the globe," he said. "When appropriate and prudent, it is imperative that we use incentives to remain competitive with other communities and to foster partnerships with our companies. By encouraging job and investment growth through the enterprise zone program, we maintain and promote a vibrant economy."