By Ken Alltucker
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The state of Ohio Monday approved the bulk of a $144.2 million package of financial incentives to keep Convergys Corp. from leaving downtown Cincinnati.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority endorsed a tax break worth $131.5 million over 15 years on the condition that Convergys invest in a $115 million headquarters, retain 1,700 full-time workers and add 195 jobs within three years.
State economic development officials champion the deal as an important step in keeping one of downtown's largest employers from leaving the state for a competing site in Northern Kentucky.
"These are good-paying jobs, and the payback will come in keeping these people here and the taxes they pay," said Rose Vesper, a former state lawmaker and Gob. Bob Taft's economic development representative for Southwest Ohio.
Yet the deal isn't complete. The city of Cincinnati and Convergys representatives are still discussing terms of a city tax break and possible grant that company officials say is needed for them to stay downtown.
"We are pleased that we have a deal finalized with the state of Ohio," Convergys spokeswoman Renea Morris said.
"We continue negotiations with the city of Cincinnati. We don't have an announcement to make on what our final decisions are because things are still pending."
The Cincinnati-based customer billing and management firm inspected more than a half-dozen sites in the past two years in an effort to consolidate three downtown locations into a single corporate campus. That search has been narrowed to downtown and Camp Marydale in Boone County.
Company officials have declined to reveal their plans for a new downtown headquarters until the city approves a deal.
In a tax break application to the state of Ohio, however, Convergys indicated that it expects to spend $67.8 million to buy a downtown building and invest $18 million-plus to renovate and improve the building.
The firm now houses the bulk of its employees at Convergys Center, at the northeast corner of Sixth and Vine streets. Its executive offices are located at Atrium I on Fourth Street.
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