Community Reinvestment Area

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.

Example

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.

First Steps

Business Owners with a planned project should contact the Office of Economic and Community Development at the City of Wooster to arrange a Pre-Application Interview at least two to three months before committing to any construction. During the interview, Business Owners should have a 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. Our office may be reached at 330.263.5250. Please note, state and local rules limit CRA to projects that would not otherwise take place but for public support. Through the years, Wooster's CRA has supported over 34 excellent projects performed by community-minded large and small businesses that redeveloped existing buildings and/or created basic-sector jobs.

We also encourage our applicants to have a relationship with Main Street Wooster and/or the Wayne Economic Development Council and the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce. JobsOhio and JumpStart also supports Wooster entrepreneurs and firms seeking to grow and expand. These independent and dynamic non-profit organizations are the City's partners in economic development, and offer a wealth of information for anyone seeking to start-up or expand in the CRA. 

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. The program is intended for companies rehabilitating an older building or commercial site, or creating basic-sector jobs. The CRA has been instrumental in helping our downtown businesses and entrepreneurs to rebuild our civic center into the vibrant space it is today. Small basic-sector businesses have also been able to use the CRA to help them launch new space. These job-creating and place-creating projects enabled through the CRA have greatly enhanced our community's quality of life and opportunities for prosperity.

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. Generally, one year of abatement is granted for every two years of job commitments. 
  • 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 and pays a $750 Application Fee to the State of Ohio's Development Services Agency (ODSA).
  • 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.
  • The applicant also commits to following all zoning and building codes through the duration.
  • 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. 
     
Location

Wooster’s CRA comprises an area generally South of Old Mansfield Road/Bowman Street and East of State Route 585, and including the Ohio Wooster Innovation Site business park. The area includes Downtown Wooster, as well as all of the City's industrially-zoned sites. A detailed map is available here: Wooster’s CRA Map.

CRA Map

 

Qualified Investments

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.

Key Requirements
  • 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 via the link below.

contacts
Department Contacts

Development Coordinator

Commercial CRA Program

City of Wooster
PO Box 1128
538 N. Market St.
Wooster, Ohio 44691

(330) 263-5250