Empowering Businesses to Grow
Businesses expanding payrolls and constructing or rehabilitating commercial facilities may be eligible to receive tax abatements on the improved value or a property. The Community Reinvestment Area program enables businesses making qualified investments to save thousands of dollars annually, enabling excellent projects and propelling growth.
A Business purchases a $400,000 building and invests $400,000 to improve the building while expanding its payroll, increasing its value to $800,000. With the CRA Program, however, a Business with a 75 percent abatement would only be assessed for a $500,000 property, saving nearly $8,000 per year, or almost $80,000 over a ten year period.
About the CRA
The Community Reinvestment Area is a zone within the City of Wooster where businesses building or rehabilitating commercial facilities may receive tax abatements on future tax increases, provided that at least two jobs are created or retained. The program is a collaborative between the City of Wooster, Wooster City Schools, Wooster Growth (Community Improvement Corporation), and private businesses seeking to grow their facilities and operations.
Abatements are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, often ranging from 50 percent to 75 percent of the improved property value for up to 10 years, or more for projects with exceptional community impact.
Many Wooster businesses have already taken advantage of the program to rehabilitate or expand their buildings. This investment is not only a great opportunity for companies to expand, but also helps the community by improving the quality of infrastructure and by incentivizing job creation.
The Community Reinvestment Act was passed by the Ohio State Legislature to encourage reinvestment in areas “in which housing facilities or structures of historical significance were located and new housing construction and repair of existing facilities or structures are discouraged”. The program is detailed in the Ohio Revised Code, which is found in Sections 3735.65 to 37.35.70.
In 2004, the City of Wooster joined this program by enacting Ordinance Number 2004-33. Many Wooster business-owners and developers have taken advantage of the program to upgrade or improve their facilities, storefronts, and offices. This type of activity brings investment back into our community, helping businesses to expand while also attracting new companies to the City.
The CRA Process
- Business Owner or Developer planning a new construction or rehabilitation project contacts the City of Wooster’s Development Coordinator to schedule a Pre-Application Interview. A business plan or similar analysis is expected. The minimum investment level is $50,000 for Commercial Properties and $100,000 for Industrial Facilities. Two full-time jobs must be created or retained.
- Business Owner explains, during the interview, the project and how it will impact the community.
- If qualified, the Business Owner will be invited to complete an official application and assist the Development Coordinator compiling a brief CRA Proposal for review by the all decision-makers.
- The completed Application and Proposal will be reviewed for approval in order by:
- Internal City of Wooster Review
- Wooster City School Board
- Wooster Growth (CIC)
- Wooster City Council
- The process generally takes about one to three months. If approved, the Business Owner signs a performance agreement with the City of Wooster.
- The Business Owner provides a $750 Application Fee to the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), which provides the final CRA approval.
- If approved by ODSA, the Business Owner may begin construction. All receipts and invoices (or copies) must be provided to the City of Wooster to certify the amount of qualified investment.
- Applicant also commits to maintaining a membership with the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce, in addition to following zoning and building codes.
- Over the following year, the Wayne County Auditor will reassess the property. Any increase in property value will be abated up to the agreed percentage of the investment.
- The Business Owner will provide an update to the City of Wooster by March 1st of each year on its performance and payroll. The Wooster Tax Incentive Review Board votes to Continue, Terminate, or Modify agreements based on performance.
Where is the Wooster CRA?
Wooster’s CRA comprises an area generally South of Old Mansfield Road/Bowman Street and East of State Route 585. The area includes Downtown Wooster, as well as multiple industrial sites. A detailed map is available here: Wooster’s CRA Map.
Business Owners with a planned project should contact the Development Coordinator at the City of Wooster to arrange a Pre-Application Interview at least two months prior to beginning any construction work. During the interview, Business Owners should have a written Business Plan with financial and payroll projections, as well as project references. Terms are negotiated based on each project's job creation potential and investment. The Development Coordinator may be reached at 330.263.5250.
Any construction that improves the assessed value of a facility is eligible to be counted toward the abatement, such as a building expansion, conversion of warehouse to office space, increasing the number of restrooms, or establishing new parking areas.
Routine maintenance generally does not impact property values, and therefore no abatement is needed. If performing substantial repairs, however, participation may still be helpful. The Wayne County Auditor ultimately assesses how improvements impact building valuations.
- Applicants must be building or rehabilitating a commercial or industrial facility located within the designated CRA, and must commit to the creation of at least two jobs within two years. Retention of two or more jobs is also considered.
- The minimum investment for Commercial projects is $50,000, and $100,000 for Industrial.
- To apply, Applicants must be current on property taxes, attend a Pre-Application Interview, provide a completed Application that meets the approval of all program stakeholders, sign a performance agreement, pay a $750 application fee, and then provide an annual performance update with a $500 review fee during the abatement period.
- Properties must be properly maintained and kept current on all property taxes throughout the abatement period, or risk abatement revocation.
Certain projects require permits and zoning review, please coordinate with the Property Maintenance / Zoning and Residential Building Inspector at City Hall, who may be reached at 330.263.5237.
Note:Residential buildings with three or more units constitute a commercial property. For residential properties with two or fewer units, please learn about our Residential CRA Program.
For Additional Information, Please Contact:
Commercial CRA Program
City of Wooster
PO Box 1128
538 N. Market St.
Wooster, Ohio 44691
Direct Line - 330.263.5250
To learn more about other programs and opportunities for residents and businesses in the City of Wooster, please return to our Development Page.