Job Creation, Strategic Economic Development, & Fiscal Security
Infrastructure Works is a revolving loan fund which makes available low-interest loans to cities, villages, and townships within Franklin County to build physical infrastructure that will result in economic development. As the loans and interest are repaid, more funding can then be made available for additional projects. To date, loans have generated $302,000 in interest income. Approved loans to date include:
|2015 Marble Cliff - Water Improvements
|2015 Whitehall - North Hamilton Rd. Improvements
|2016 Upper Arlington - Municipal Fiber Network
|2016 Grandview Heights - Goodale Blvd. Improvements
|2017 Grove City - Stringtown Rd. Water/Sewer Improvements
|2017 Grove City - Municipal Fiber Network
The commissioners have also approved a $1.75 million grant to the Columbus Regional Airport Authority to support the Rickenbacker Air Traffic Control Tower Project. Rickenbacker International Airport continues to be an economic driver for all of Central Ohio. The airport alone is responsible for 5,000 jobs, and when added to the businesses nearby is responsible for more than 20,000 jobs, and generates more than $2.8 Billion in economic output.
Energy Works provides loans to businesses, local governments, schools, and non-profits in Franklin County for energy efficient upgrades. Approved loans to date include:
||Annual Energy Savings
||Energy Savings (%)
|2016 PNC Plaza, Downtown Columbus
|2016 Trivium Development medical office building, Worthington
|2017 Wasserstrom Realty headquarters, Whitehall
|2017 Frantz Investments commercial office building, Dublin
|2017 TKS Industrial manufacturing facility, Refugee Rd.
The commissioners have also approved an $115,000 grant to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission to fund the Franklin County Energy Baseline Study. The Energy Study provides a data-driven assessment of energy use and production across key sectors of the economy, including residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation, and will be useful in determining the true impact of programs like Energy Works. The first of its kind in Ohio with a countywide focus, the study also incorporates local utility data and examines energy consumption at the ZIP Code level.
The goal of the People Works program is to do just that – put people to work. This program specifically targeting the county’s social service agency clients in hopes of connecting them and training them to fill living wage jobs that the region’s employers have available. Approved grant agreements to date include:
||People to Be Trained (by)
||People hired (as of Dec. 2017)
|2015 Connect Ohio/Digital Works
||100 (Dec. 2018)
|2016 Engineered Profiles
||150 (Dec. 2018)
||82 (Sept. 2019)
|2016 i.c.Stars Columbus
||90 (Dec. 2019)
||300 (June 2023)
Experience Columbus: Visitors Matter in Franklin County
This year, the commissioners awarded Experience Columbus a $2.065 million grant to continue to promote Franklin County as a tourism destination. The commissioners’ continued investment in Experience Columbus fuels our local economy as our region welcomes 39.3 million visitors each year. Those visitors directly spend $6.4 billion, which supports $9.7 billion in total economic impact. The tourism sector also supports nearly 75,000 jobs in the region and generates $1.13 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue, which saves each Franklin County household $2,384 annually.
Last July, the commissioners hosted the 2017 National Association of Counties (NACo) Annual Conference and Exposition. The conference drew nearly 3,000 elected officials from 46 states, filling 8,000 hotel rooms and generating $3.8 million in direct visitor spending.
The NACo Conference was a prime example of Experience Columbus’ “Make It Columbus” strategy, designed to encourage local leaders to leverage connections to national associations to bring groups to the city. The commissioners seized the opportunity NACo provided to introduce Central Ohio to colleagues from around the nation. Widespread community collaboration ensured an extraordinary visitor experience for all who attended. While friends and family toured local visitor attractions, county officials had the chance to see first-hand how our smart, vibrant and collaborative community works and grows. According to Brian Namey, NACo’s director of public affairs, “Holding our 2017 Annual Conference in Columbus this past July was a second-to-none experience.”
For their extraordinary job of “Making it Columbus,” the commissioners received an EXPY Award from Experience Columbus at their annual meeting on March 15.
Columbus 2020: Promoting Job Creation and Strategic Economic Development
The commissioners have approved a $1 million grant to Columbus 2020 for economic development activities focusing on new business development, job creation and job retention in Franklin County. As a part of the agreement, Columbus 2020 will market Franklin County both nationally and internationally as a prime location to expand or relocate a business and foster collaboration among The Ohio State University, Battelle, Rev1 Ventures, Small Business Development Centers, Columbus State and others actively engaged in economic development activities to assist entrepreneurs.
Now in its seventh year of collaboration, Franklin County’s commitment to and engagement with Columbus 2020 and the Columbus Region continues to yield positive results. From 2011-2016, Columbus 2020 successfully completed 473 corporate expansion projects and attracted 183 companies to our region, creating 41,381 jobs for our residents. For every $1 invested in Columbus 2020, $471 in economic output was created.
In 2017 alone, Columbus 2020 accomplished the following:
Rev1 Ventures: Investing in Tech Startups
The commissioners also support local startup incubator Rev1 Ventures with a $300,000 grant. This grant is used to leverage the Ohio Development Services Agency’s Entrepreneurial Signature Program funding. With these funds, Rev1 provides coaching and mentoring services to start-up tech companies in Franklin County in order to help them identify markets, sell their products, attract investment and create jobs.
Last year, Rev1 invested nearly $8 million in 29 startups, including 13 women/minority/veteran-owned startups. Rev1 also supported the growth of 10 companies with eight moving from the Concept stage to Seed stage and two moving from Seed to Seed+.
Since 2007, Franklin County has supported Rev1 (formerly TechColumbus) with $2.25 million in funding. That funding has been leveraged 233 times for a total investment of $525 million dollars in local startups. These startups have generated $388 million in revenue and created 1,312 jobs.
Affordable housing has become an issue in Franklin County as the housing market tightens with population growth, rents rise to take advantage of demand, and incomes are not keeping pace with housing costs.
The 2018 Budget includes funding from the Board of Commissioners’ Community Partnerships program for the following:
- $5.0 million for the Community Shelter Board to serve 2,000 individuals through the Navigator Program which helps homeless families through rapid rehousing and 2,200 individuals through permanent supportive housing for a total of 4,200 families accessing affordable housing.
- $3.1 million for the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus & Franklin County to produce 150 affordable rental housing units for individuals at or below 30% the Average Median Income, 15 affordable home ownership units, and 2,000 affordable rental units for individuals at 30-80% Average Median Income.
- $150,000 for Star House, the one-stop safe haven where homeless youth can have a hot meal, receive mail, use computers, receive health care and counseling services, apply for jobs, and work to become re-integrated into society. Star House anticipates the following outcomes for 2018: 1,000 youth ages 14-24 experiencing homelessness will utilize the drop-in center; 500 youth will obtain employment; 300 clients will enter educational programs; and 250 clients will obtain housing.
Addressing our High Eviction Rate
The commissioners, along with Columbus City Council, Franklin County Municipal Court, Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services, and other community stakeholders worked last year to develop a plan to address the high numbers of evictions – more than 18,000 – filed in Franklin County in 2017 and to better accommodate the needs of families living on the edge of homelessness.
The commissioners have taken a leading role in combatting this community epidemic and approved nearly $300,000 in funding effective February 1, 2018 to Community Mediation Services to support tenant-landlord mediation and eviction intervention services as well as eviction prevention workshops. This partnership also connects residents with housing assistance available through the county’s emergency aid program – Prevention, Retention and Contingency (PRC).
The PRC program now enables a family to apply for assistance up to $1,500 to help prevent eviction, which oftentimes creates a pathway that leads to homelessness. In November 2017, Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services expanded the program’s reach by stationing a representative in Franklin County Municipal’s Eviction Court to immediately connect families with services that could help them avoid eviction.
An agency representative is now stationed at the Franklin County Municipal Courthouse outside of the eviction court five days a week. The representative can process PRC requests to help families avoid eviction and homelessness. Financial eligibility is set at 165% of the Federal Poverty Guideline. The household must include a minor or expectant mother. The initiative has already helped almost 100 families in four months.
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Through 2017, Franklin County continued its stellar performance in the administration of U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) funds. The county was able to leverage $37.8 million dollars with $3.4 million in HUD funding; that’s 11:1! Franklin County continues to remain 1st in the nation for leveraging HUD HOME funds to increase homeownership and affordable housing opportunities for low-income residents, and 1st in the State of Ohio in rental disbursements.
HUD funding also supported the following:
Community Gardens created or maintained
Tool rentals provided
Homeless persons served
Persons provided fair housing
The Economic Development and Planning Department, in addition to economic and community development programming and land-use planning, also administers building permitting and zoning compliance for much of the county. Each year, county staff examines and inspects thousands of zoning and building permits and plans to ensure compliance with state and local laws and regulation, and to ensure public safety.