Reynoldsburg City Council is expected to approve the creation June 10 of a new Community Improvement Corp. that would "promote and provide economic-development strategies for the city" through loans, grants, tax credits and other economic incentives.

"It is something that is pretty much widespread in the state of Ohio -- there's about 300 in the state and every central Ohio community has one," development director Andrew Bowsher said.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, CICs are nonprofit, quasi-governmental organizations for "advancing, encouraging and promoting the industrial, economic, commercial and civic development of a community or area."

Reynoldsburg's CIC also would act as a landbank for the city, with a goal to make sites "shovel-ready," Bowsher said.

"This means all site tests, evaluations, regulations and analytics have been completed," he said. "More often than not, developers are looking for primed and ready sites. When the city doesn't have those to offer, developers search the next area.

"This CIC will now allow Reynoldsburg to be on even ground with other municipalities throughout the Midwest."

As proposed, the CIC would start with a six-member board of directors, including the mayor, a city council member, three at-large members from the community and Bowsher acting in a nonvoting capacity.

Bowsher said potential sources of funding include revenue from a joint economic-development district with Etna Township, contributions from the city's general fund, membership dues and donations.

Having a CIC will allow for a "proactive" approach to development, particularly in areas identified in the city's 2018 comprehensive plan, such as the corridors along Brice Road and Main Street, Bowsher said.

"Its major function will be creating deals and offering incentives outside of the purview granted to just municipalities," he said. "To be competitive within the Columbus region, the city will look to the CIC to facilitate development which might have taken longer, or not at all."

The city started a CIC in the late 1970s -- Reynoldsburg Economic Development Inc., or REDI -- but it was largely unfunded and underused before it went defunct about three years ago, Bowsher said.

Grow Licking County

Grow Licking County is an example of a successful CIC that Reynoldsburg is hoping to emulate, Bowsher said.

Grow Licking County was started in 2012 and has expanded to 43 investors and a $340,000 annual operating budget to "market our county to facilitate growth and help enable business development and economic opportunities," executive director Nathan A. Strum said. "It allows for public dollars to be matched and met by and partnered with private dollars to make sure we're all playing from the same playbook and we've all got skin in the game."

About 60% of Grow Licking County investors are private companies, Strum said. The organization is focused on attracting "family-sustaining jobs," he said.

"We looked at how do we measure success and targeted that toward overall job numbers, payroll, private investment and the improvement of the median household income," he said. "If we're moving the needle in those areas, then we as a CIC are doing our job."

Strum said Licking County has started to see its median household income "tick up."

"The CIC model works really well because it allows for multiple partners to come to the table and see the mechanisms that are happening to promote economic growth," he said. "It helps build trust within your community. The city of Reynoldsburg is a partner in that growth, so Reynoldsburg's success is our success."

Reynoldsburg City Councilman Marshall Spalding said the initiative will help make the most of money coming to the city through development.

"It's not just going to be city-funded -- there are growth funds that are coming in only because of development," he said. "You have to have a body before you put food in it. I'm amazed -- almost every city around has one of these. I think it's good to get back on track."

The council meeting is 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 10, at City Hall, 7232 E. Main St.

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