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By Chris Balusik, Chillicothe Gazette
Published Sept. 16, 2015
CHILLICOTHE – Want new jobs? Want to encourage development locally? Want to have control over that development when it comes?
If so, become familiar with the acronym JEDD, because area economic development officials and future city leaders are expressing significant interest in exploring a JEDD in Ross County in the years to come.
A JEDD, or Joint Economic Development District, is a development tool that allows a city and an unincorporated entity, most commonly a township, to contract with each other for development purposes. In many cases, the city benefits from an income tax imposed within the area defined by the JEDD contract. The township usually benefits from city services such as water, sewer or police and fire protection that it didn’t have before, and doesn’t have to be annexed in order to receive them.
The driving force behind such an agreement is jobs — most commonly in attracting them through making land that was previously unattractive to business because of lack of services much more appealing for possible manufacturing or retail development. In other cases, JEDDs can help maintain jobs by making company expansions possible.
While the possibility of a JEDD between the City of Chillicothe and Green Township has been discussed and debated for more than a decade, the movement toward a local JEDD appeared to be gaining momentum during a presentation this week by Chris Schmenk and Robert McCarthy, of Bricker & Eckler’s Public Finance Group, at the Paccar Medical Education Center.
“You will be hearing more about this,” said Chris Manegold, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Southern Ohio. “We set this (event) up in an attitude of advocacy because it’s something the community really needs to look at to get control of its future.”
During the presentation, Schmenk and McCarthy outlined what a JEDD is, why and how they are formed, how they are paid for, what the process is for forming them and how they are governed. In terms of general public involvement, public hearings would be held once the public has had time to review contracts and economic development plans for a JEDD district. Under the process, if a JEDD is sought in an area with no zoning in place – as is the case currently in Ross County’s townships – the public would also have the opportunity to vote on whether to approve a JEDD agreement.
There also is direct involvement built into the process for property owners inside the proposed JEDD area.
Chillicothe’s three mayoral candidates each said the possibility of a JEDD is very appealing.
“I’m certainly open to the concept,” said Democrat Luke Feeney. “I think that anything we can do to attract high-quality jobs to the area, the government should play a big role in that. If a JEDD is the best way to do that, we should be into it.”
That support is conditional, however, Feeney said. When drawing up a JEDD agreement, the city would have to be certain it is not overextending itself by providing services elsewhere – particularly where police and fire are involved – and that the income tax bump from within the JEDD area would support that extension. Basically, he said, a JEDD would have to be beneficial for everyone involved in the city and any township one might be reached with.
Republican Nancy Ames said she has been doing a lot of research on JEDDs.
“They are so beneficial to all parties involved,” she said. “It would definitely benefit both the township and the city to form a JEDD. No. 1, it would protect the township from annexation, which is something that (Green) township has been fearful of. No. 2, it would provide an economic development area that would bring in revenue and jobs to both the township and the city.”
Ames also pointed out that through the language in a JEDD contract, you can control what type of development is permitted in, keeping out unwanted types of businesses in a community from taking root. That’s especially true in areas without zoning.
For independent candidate Joe Sharp, so long as the contract is beneficial to both parties, a JEDD seems a logical way to go.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t sit down and make it advantageous to everyone, sure, I’d be in favor of it,” Sharp said.
Manegold said JEDDs offer an additional potential revenue source for land-locked communities like Chillicothe that are running out of growth opportunities within city limits while encouraging development in townships, which will provide benefits to both parties in terms of new tax revenue and expanded job opportunities for local residents.
Green Township is the most commonly mentioned potential partner for a JEDD agreement with the city both because of the amount of available land for potential development and a boom in growth along the Ohio 159 corridor. Manegold mentioned that Transportation Review Advisory Council funds also appear to be falling into place for a study on extending the Ohio 207 connector all the way to Ohio 159, which could further spur development in that area.
How a JEDD is formed?