Bustling with Activity, Gahanna Attracting Businesses

Gahanna’s current tagline “5 minutes to the Airport. 10 minutes to Downtown Columbus.” surely  highlights two advantages it has over several other Central Ohio locales.

However, two extensive redevelopment projects that officials have advanced there in recent years, not to mention the incentives in place to encourage business attraction and retention, give, perhaps, an equally compelling argument for considering the “complete community” east of the Capital City.

Creekside, a mixed-use development in Olde Gahanna combining offices, retail, restaurants, residences and public spaces, began to take shape in October 2004 thanks to a public-private partnership between the city and the Stonehenge Co. that has resulted in $25 million worth of private improvements and $11 million in new public infrastructure.

Today, “Creekside has accomplished two critical community goals: revitalizing Gahanna’s downtown and creating a ‘heart’ for Olde Gahanna,” says Leah Evans, the city’s economic development manager.

“Creekside has attracted over 40 new businesses to Gahanna, and these businesses contribute to the community through income tax revenue and community contributions and services,” she adds. “Two of the buildings are almost full, with very little office space available for lease.”

Central Park of Gahanna, the region’s largest Clean Ohio Redevelopment Fund project, also is contributing to the city’s growth.

Launched in July 2006, the 191-acre business campus adjacent to Port Columbus International Airport and I-270 is open for business and being marketed by Doug Goddard of CB Richard Ellis. When complete, Central Park will feature a projected 1.2 million square feet of office buildings, Tartan Golf Academy at Central Park, an open air meeting pavilion, walking trails, a conference center, and complementary retail.

“Great progress has been made on golf course and we expect it to open in spring or summer of 2011,” Evans says. “We’ve had significant interest in several of the sites and will hopefully see new buildings being constructed in the park as early as next year.”

The city also looks forward to the development of new mixed-use education, office and retail spaces at the corner of Hamilton Road and Granville Street, redevelopment of the I-270 Hamilton Road interchange, and growth in the city’s “medical triangle” at the intersection of Hamilton and Johnstown roads due to continued development of The Ohio State University’s CarePoint Gahanna and OhioHealth’s Gahanna Health Center.

To encourage new and existing businesses to grow and expand in Gahanna, the city’s Department of Planning & Development mainly relies on three incentives: the Community Reinvestment Area Program, Tax Increment Financing Districts, and Office and Industrial Rebates.

The CRA Program offers real property tax abatement to new or expanding facilities in Gahanna’s five CRAs, several of which are within its Office, Commerce & Technology District on the southeast side of the city. The term and percentage of tax abatement are based on project investment, the number of jobs created or retained, and annual income tax for Gahanna.

This year, the city has approved four new tax abatements. In 2009, Gahanna had a total of 136 tax abated properties in the city’s CRAs.

“The majority of projects are located in the OCT District,” Evans says. “These 136 projects represent over 3,000 jobs and $114 million in private investment.”

Gahanna has five TIF Districts, which allow the city to repay the debt for infrastructure improvements, including public roads and highways, demolition, and gas, electric and telecommunication services.

“There is no cap as to how much a TIF can generate, but each TIF District is only in place for up to 30 years,” Evans explains.

New and expanding businesses in the OCT District with an annual payroll of more than $1 million are eligible for the Office and Industrial Rebate program.

Under the program, businesses can be refunded up to 50 percent of their income tax payments. The term and percentage of the rebates are based on total annual salary, project investment, and the number of jobs created or retained.

This year, Gahanna City Council has approved just one Office and Industrial Rebate− 50 percent of income tax paid to the city for five years for the creation of up to 350 jobs at two sites in Gahanna, Evans said.

Attracting technology-based businesses, in particular, has become increasingly important to Gahanna officials, as evidenced by the push to develop fiber optic networks throughout the municipality.

“The city of Gahanna and the Gahanna Community Improvement Corp. have partnered to leverage the city’s existing fiber optic infrastructure in order to provide significant cost savings to businesses locating in Gahanna,” Evans says.

New businesses locating in Gahanna may receive technology services through the GCIC’s Broadband Initiative, she continues, allowing dedicated access to multiple Internet service providers and comprehensive data services to meet all their Internet and data storage needs at a reduced price.

Simply put, “Gahanna is the right choice for business,” Evans says.

The Department of Planning & Development has won several awards for its Business Retention and Expansion Program and the city has perfected the “one-stop shop” for development services, including building permits, design review, and incentive approvals that help provide a significant savings in both time and money for our businesses, she continues.

“We are a complete community providing quality residential, educational, professional and recreational opportunities, and we’d welcome the chance to talk with any new business and share with them the value of being in Gahanna,” she says.

More information can be found online at Gahanna.gov.

All photos by Adam Slane Photography.