Ohio incentives prompt TQL to double work force

1,000 jobs to be added within five years

UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio - When David Abdon was looking for work, he studied the Internet, talked to his friends and visited the firm where they were employed.

Abdon, 28, liked what he saw -- especially the types of cars in the parking lot -- and was soon hired at Total Quality Logistics (TQL) in Clermont County's Union Township.

TQL is a freight brokerage firm founded in 1997. Sales will top $1 billion by the end of 2011. There are 948 employees in Union Township right now with 585 of them added this year.

"I couldn't have gotten luckier finding this particular job. It suits me to a 't'," he said Thursday after meeting with Ohio Governor John Kasich. "The benefits are excellent. The company as a whole -- it's very well organized -- very well set up. We do a lot of company outings. We give back to the community. That's a big thing for me."

The Governor was at TQL to help announce the company will add 575 jobs in Clermont Count over the next three years and a total of 1,000 nationwide within five years.

"These are the young people that have been leaving Ohio en masse and now we're beginning to see pockets in our state -- growing pockets -- a trend perhaps -- where young people are saying I don't have to leave Ohio. May be there's something exciting here for me," Kasich said.

JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme said walking through the TQL facility reminded him of similar visits to firms located in California's Silicon Valley.

"That's what you see at Facebook. That's what you see at Google. That's what you see at all these great companies," he said. "We have it here in Ohio."

TQL Executive Vice-President Kerry Byrne said Kentucky put together a good package, but in the end the firm agreed to amend its job creation tax credit package with Ohio.

"We can do this anywhere," Byrne said. "The ability to earn tax credits or incentives plain and simple means that we create more jobs and hire more people and that's what it comes down to."

Byrne said the announcement is not a win-lose situation for Ohio and Kentucky.

"We opened offices in Louisville and Lexington this year," Byrne said. "We have plans to probably open an office in Northern Kentucky -- not a large operation like we have right here probably -- but we will continue to expand in Kentucky as well."

Gov. Kasich again defended the use of incentives. Sears was offered $400 million to move from Chicago to Columbus. Chiquita shunned a $6 million Ohio offer for a $22 million package from Charlotte, North Carolina.

"In order to keep Chiquita we would have had to offer a deal that wouldn't have paid us back for 10 years and that borders on corporate welfare. We don't want to do that," said the Governor. "This program itself and the incentives that we provided to this company is a return on investment positive for the taxpayers of the state in year one."

"So, the kind of payroll we're going to get, the kind of dollars that will be collected are going to be offset -- more than offset -- by what we have done here in terms of the incentives," Kasich added.

To house the new employees, TQL plans to invest $10 to $12 million in a new 100,000 square foot building in in the Ivy Pointe area that should be ready for occupancy in the Spring of 2013.

The company was one of the original tenants in the business park, which now houses firms with 3,000 employees.

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