Blue Ash issues $1.3M in incentives for 125 jobs

Posted at 6:00 AM, Feb 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 06:00:07-05

BLUE ASH – The City of Blue Ash is offering its largest incentive package ever to help keep an international logistics business in its midst, and for the first time, will be receiving assistance from the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority in order to do so. The net gain? At least 125 new jobs by the year 2026.

Integrity Express Logistics LLC is looking to expand and will start construction on a new headquarters in Blue Ash this year. The company, an asset-based third-party freight broker, has plans for a $20 million, four-story, 120,000-square-foot facility between Cooper and Malsbary roads. It had considered relocating to Northern Kentucky, officials said.

Blue Ash is selling IEL roughly 7.78 acres for the project site at a discounted price – $75,000 per acre versus the $250,000 per acre it thinks the land is worth, an incentive worth $1.3 million, Blue Ash's largest offer on record. In exchange, IEL, which was founded in 2007 with three employees, says it will double its workforce – from 125 to 250 in 10 years and increase its total annual payroll to $19.25 million.

The port authority, specifically, will take ownership interest in the land and office building and enter into a long-term lease agreement with IEL for the space, which allows for savings on things like building and construction materials, since the port is exempt from paying Ohio sales tax. While it's executed similar deals with developers -- for apartment buildings in Downtown and Avondale in 2015, for example -- this is the port's first lease with a private company.

It's also its first transaction in Blue Ash. The port's board of directors approved a resolution detailing the deal Wednesday morning. The effort also includes the assistance of REDI Cincinnati and JobsOhio, officials said.

"This is an ideal lease," said Todd Castellini, recently hired director of public finance for the port authority. "Their business has grown significantly and has plans to continue to grow. IEL will commit to growing their full-time job base to 250 by 2026. These jobs have an average annual salary $77,000. So these are good quality, high-paying jobs."

Castellini said IEL plans to occupy two stories of the new space, to be located at 4420 Cooper Road, across from the city's municipal building, and will recruit additional tenants for the remaining space. That could account for an additional 100 jobs in the building, Blue Ash officials said.

"But more than likely, they'll end up growing into all four floors," Castellini said.

The ownership transfer and lease is expected to close in early 2016, port officials said. IEL has said it wants to move into the headquarters in 2017.

Integrity Express Logistics has called 4370 Malsbary Road home since 2013. The company recently opened an operations center in Tampa, Florida, and has plans to expand to Chicago later this year.

"They are growing rapidly. I think the thing I like about it most, this is a retention play," Castellini said. "This is a great project."

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