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A deal maker; city's OK of tax incentive lands company, jobs

by BOB GAETJENS | REPORTER Published: March 22, 2017 1:00 AM
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AURORA -- Piping Rock Health Products is planning to move into 777 Lena Drive, and Aurora City Council passed a motion March 13 approving a withholding tax incentive agreement, which Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said sealed the deal.

According to Womer Benjamin, the agreement abates 33 percent of the company's income taxes from 2019 to 2025.

"The good news is they loved Aurora, but they also loved the [economic incentive] package," she told Council on March 13. "Piping Rock committeed to Aurora last week after we gave them this tentative offer, subject to Council approval."

Piping Rock Health Products is a maker of vitamin and health supplements, said Jack Burge, the city's economic development director.

According Womer Benjamin and Burge, the company plans to bring 175 jobs initially to Aurora and grow to 350 jobs by its fifth year. That would result in a payroll of about $12 million a year.

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"It's a big deal," said Burge. "The purchase of the building was about $6.5 million. They will add about $4.5 million to $5 million in improvements."

As an approved Community Reinvestment Area project, the company gets a 100 percent abatement on increased property value generated by its investment, said Burge. The building Piping Rock is moving into is about 200,000 square feet, he added.

City Council member Amy McDougald called the deal a "huge victory for our city" and congratulated Burge and Womer Benjamin for attracting the business.

City Council member Harold Hatridge voted in favor of the income tax agreement, but said he doesn't want to make a habit of giving such incentives to everybody. "I typically would not want to make this something we do every time a business comes in," he said.

Womer Benjamin said she appreciates assistance from the Portage County Development Board and state of Ohio for helping to make the CRA and income tax agreement possible, which she said combined to attract Piping Rock. The firm had been considering several sites for the packaging and distribution center, but decided on Aurora over a North Carolina location, she said.

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"We do need to have a final package to the company," she said, adding Piping Rock decided on Aurora based on Womer Benjamin's belief from talking to Council members individually that the income tax agreement would pass.

The company is hoping to begin its project this spring and complete it by March 2020.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4188

Twitter: @bobgaetjens_rpc

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