Warren expands business tax rebate program

WARREN – City Council unanimously passed an ordinance expanding the availability of a tax rebate for businesses that bring new employees into the city.

The original ordinance, passed in 2010, provided start-up companies that opened in Warren opportunities to receive tax rebates based on the amount of investments made and the number of new jobs created in the opening of the businesses.

The change approved Wednesday extends those to already-existing businesses that move into the city from other communities. The size of the rebate depends both of the size of the financial investment and the number of employees brought into the city.

“Companies that move into the city that bring in their existing employees to work in the city will be eligible for the rebate,” Councilman Vince Flask, D-5th Ward, said. “Of course, we want them to add additional employees.”

Safety-Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa said, “Competition is becoming increasingly more competitive among cities for new businesses. We did not have anything to allow us to get into the competition for the businesses. This will allow us to get into the game.”

Cantalamessa emphasized that once passed, all the avenues in which the city is marketed, including its website, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, and others, will be made aware to the rebate possibility.

Although the administration pushed council to pass the ordinance without three readings, Cantalamessa, after the vote, indicated its efforts were not aimed at any one developer.

Councilman James Valesky, D-at large, called the tax rebate legislation a no-brainer.

“We are trying to show the city is business-friendly,” he said.

Councilwoman Helen Rucker, D-at large, said that the tax rebate opportunities need to be stressed not only to companies outside of the city, but also to existing businesses within the city that may be looking to expand and add new employees.

“It can be helpful to areas like the city’s 6th Ward have land and buildings where companies can place new businesses,” Rucker said.

While pleased with this new new effort to bring in new businesses, Rucker on Tuesday criticized the marketing efforts being done by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber on behalf of the city. Rucker suggested the organization’s efforts, particularly dealing the with the U.S. Route 422 corridor, appear to be concentrated in the Youngstown, Girard and Liberty areas.

Responding to the criticism, Mayor Doug Franklin, on Tuesday, noted the Niles Mayor Ralph Infante and himself had already discussed the need to expand their marketing opportunities outside of what is being provided.