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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 1:00 am

Companies' incentive payments trimmed

Employment goals not met


Three Fort Wayne companies that received economic development incentives in the past have failed to live up to their promises to create jobs, officials learned Tuesday, and part of the reason cited was a strong economy.

The news came at meetings of the Fort Wayne/Allen County Joint LEDGE Board and the Allen County LEDGE Board. LEDGE stands for Local Economic Development for a Growing Economy.

LEDGE incentives come in the form of money to reward companies for locating or investing in a particular area and/or creating or maintaining jobs that fuel the local tax base.

In two of the cases, government LEDGE payments to the companies were pro-rated as a result of their not living up to their agreements. In the other, progress toward agreed-upon goals was deemed sufficient for full payment.

Receiving pro-rated payments were R3 Composites and Revenue Cycle Service Center. Receiving full payment despite falling a bit short was Brunswick Leisure Boat, which produces recreational boats and pontoons.

In 2013, the company chose to remain in the Fort Wayne area by moving to a vacant factory at 1111 N. Hadley Road from a facility on West State Boulevard. Scott Harrold, senior economic development specialist, told the joint board the company had a goal of 361 jobs but had produced 296.

But because that number represented steady growth and more than 80 percent of the goal, the company was deemed in compliance, he said. The board voted unanimously to award the full $116,069 incentive, with payment split between Fort Wayne and Allen County.

Rich Beck, chairman of the joint board, said a downturn in business may not be the reason for the company's falling short.

With the county's unemployment rate hovering around 3 percent, he said, employers “may have met their goals (for increasing business), but they can't find people. They can't find employees.”

Harrold said R3 Composites, a maker of plastic products, also was pro-rated in previous years. He said a business contract on which the company based its projections fell through, and new customers had to be found.

“They seem to be doing fine now,” he said of the company. It met about 73 percent of its employment goal but only about 40 percent of its payroll goal, he said. The company was awarded about $74,000.

The service center, which does back-office work for Lutheran Hospital, promised 234 jobs with $9 million in payroll but delivered 135 with $5.4 million payroll, Harrold said. It was awarded about $28,850.

In other business, the Allen County Redevelopment Commission held public hearings on adopting two allocation areas associated with new economic development areas prior to convening the LEDGE boards.

No one testified.

The Lafayette Center Corner Allocation Area in southwest Allen County and the Diebold Corner Allocation Area near Parkview Regional Medical Center in northern Allen County were formally established by unanimous votes.

The allocation areas previously were passed by the redevelopment commission, the Allen County Plan Commission and the Allen County commissioners.