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CINCINNATI - Pure Romance makes and markets products to put more spice into the bedroom. The Loveland-based business has grown into a $100 million company.
But Pure Romance feels jilted by Ohio and might move its headquarters and 100 jobs to Kentucky.
When it sought Ohio tax incentives to move its headquarters to Seventh and Plum streets in downtown Cincinnati, the answer was no.
"The Development Services Agency didn't think the project was the best use of taxpayer resources," said spokesperson Lyn Tolan.
Now, Kentucky and Florida are wooing the firm's 100 jobs with an average annual salary of $65,000.
Tolan says priorities for incentives are advanced technology, advanced manufacturing and energy, but not retail.
"Some companies are growing already and it's not necessary to provide taxpayer resources as incentives," Tolan said.
"How stupid!" responded city council member Laure Quinlivan.
Quinlivan got her colleagues to pass a resolution asking the state to change its mind.
"This company is called Pure Romance and this is pure stupidity to say, 'No, we don't want you in Ohio,’” Quinlivan said. “A hundred good paying jobs? Yes, we want them in Ohio."
Pure Romance CEO and President Chris Cichinelli wrote in a statement that the company appreciates Quinlivan and the rest of City Council for their aggressive action and support for the company's continued relationship with the state of Ohio.
"On behalf of Pure Romance, I want to express our appreciation to the Cincinnati City Council for their unanimous adoption of a resolution expressing their support for relocating our corporate offices into downtown Cincinnati and further encouraging the State of Ohio to consider providing certain incentives," Cichinelli wrote.
Regardless of Cichinell's "appreciation for City Council's efforts," a door has been opened for pure romance to move to Kentucky -- possibly to Corporex buildings along the Ohio River that recently lost Omnicare and Neilsen to Cincinnati.
"We want to do all we can to open our doors, show them what's available and perhaps there will be an opportunity to give them an incentive," said Steve Stevens, president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Covington and Kentucky could offer property and income tax relief to lure Pure Romance.
"We also look forward to meeting with representatives of the City of Covington and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the near future," wrote Cichinelli. "We will then carefully consider the various opportunities and incentives being presented to us and determine what is the best 'fit' for Pure Romance as soon as possible."
However, Stevens doesn’t want to get into a bidding war.
"Hopefully, we would win it on our own merits," Stevens said.
Councilman PG Sittenfeld and State Representative Denise Driehaus will hold a press conference Tuesday asking the state of Ohio to reconsider its decision to deny the company $108,000 in job tax credits to move into the City of Cincinnati.
"People are rightly outraged. These are good-paying jobs," Sittenfeld said. "Our local economy here in Cincinnati is making a comeback, but the state is chasing jobs away."
The average salary of the 120 jobs Pure Romance would be moving to the city is an average of $65,000.
"You don't have to work for Pure Romance to realize that there's nothing sexy about being anti-jobs," Sittenfeld said
The Pure Romance warehouse will stay in Loveland, but City Manager Tom Carroll says losing the headquarters will mean $36,000 less in taxes.
You can read the full statement from Pure Romance below:
On behalf of Pure Romance, I want to express our appreciation to the Cincinnati City Council for their unanimous adoption of a resolution expressing their support for relocating our corporate offices into downtown Cincinnati and further encouraging the State of Ohio to consider providing certain incentives. We also look forward to meeting with representatives of the City of Covington and the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the near future. We will then carefully consider the various opportunities and incentives being presented to us and determine what is the best “fit” for Pure Romance as soon as possible.
We are proud to be a part of this community and look forward to continuing to play an active part in the resurgence of this region’s urban core. We know that the Pure Romance professionals will add to the dynamic and exciting growth being enjoyed in the center of our region.
Pure Romance is committed to providing women access in their communities to safe products and first class sexual health education and resources. Currently, we have specially trained or certified independent sales consultants in North America, South Africa and Australia with more than 2 million customers. And, our business is growing as more and more women are empowered through our products and services. That is precisely why we are considering this project to bring 116 new corporate headquarter jobs at an average annual wage of $65,000 into the region’s urban core.
We are especially proud of the work of The Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health (named after Pure Romance Founder and Chairwoman Patty Brisben – my Mother). The Patty Brisben Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves to enhance women’s sexual healthand well-being through research and education. The Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health has four areas of focus: vulvovaginal pain disorders, sexual health issues related to menopause, intimacy-related issues after cancer therapy, and libido and sexual desire issues.
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