by German Lopez
35 days ago
Mayoral candidate represented company as it moved headquarters to Norwood
As an attorney and lobbyist at Keating, Muething &
Klekamp (KMK), mayoral candidate John Cranley helped payroll company
Paycor finalize plans to move its headquarters — and 450 to 500 jobs
with it — from Queensgate in Cincinnati to Norwood, Ohio.
Specifically, KMK helped Paycor and Norwood set up a tax credit deal to incentivize the company’s relocation. Throughout the
process, the law firm called on several of its employees, including
Cranley, to help with the negotiations.
For Paycor, the move comes after more than two decades in
Cincinnati. The company originally looked in Cincinnati for bigger
headquarters with better parking options, but ultimately couldn’t find a
location to its liking, according to a May 2012 memo
from the city manager. So when Paycor found a location outside city
limits and worked out a tax incentive package with Norwood and Ohio, it
decided to move.
Cities and states often deploy incentive packages, ranging
from property tax abatements to deductions on income taxes, to attract
and retain companies. Pure Romance, a $100-million-plus “relationship
enhancement” company, recently agreed to move from Loveland, Ohio, to
downtown Cincinnati after securing such a tax deal with the city.
Paycor broke ground on its new headquarters in December and
plans to move there next spring. The transition will pull 450 to 500
employees out of Cincinnati, and the company plans to add another 250
to 300 employees over time at its new facilities.
Cranley campaign manager Jay Kincaid says Cranley and KMK
won’t comment on the details of their work with Paycor or other clients
for ethical reasons. But Kincaid says Cranley was just doing his job
after Paycor went to KMK, not the other way around.
“In the legal profession you’re asked to represent
clients, and you do it to the best of your ability,” Kincaid says. “At
the time I don’t think (Cranley) was even running for office. The firm
came to him and said, ‘Hey, we have a job that we need you to work on.’
And he did the work, just like anyone else would at their job.”
Norwood City Council approved the deal with Paycor on Oct.
23, 2012. Cranley announced his mayoral campaign three weeks later, on
Cranley’s critics argue that a mayoral candidate shouldn’t be helping companies leave the city he wants to lead.
“It is disappointing that John (Cranley) helped Paycor
leave the city with its over 450 tax-paying jobs. His efforts undercut
the city’s efforts to retain jobs and businesses,” said Vice Mayor
Roxanne Qualls, who is running against Cranley, in an emailed statement.
The move comes despite Cincinnati’s various attempts to
hang on to Paycor, including previous tax deals. In 2001,
then-Councilman Cranley and the rest of City Council approved tax
incentives to keep the company in Cincinnati, retain its 142 jobs at the
time and create another 25. The city administration estimated the deal
would cost the city $225,750 and generate $546,000 in net tax revenue
over five years.In 2006, Cranley and seven council members approved another incentive package to further secure Paycor’s stay in Cincinnati.
But the deals also required Paycor to remain in Cincinnati
through 2015. Since Paycor’s move violates the agreement, the city
administration says it plans to claw back some of the tax benefits given
to the company.
In other words, Cranley in 2001 and 2006 approved tax deals with Paycor that the company, with his help, is now set to break.
City spokesperson Meg Olberding says the clawback process
will begin after Paycor moves to Norwood in 2014. So if Cranley is
elected by voters on Nov. 5, he would be mayor as the city is taking
back some of the money it gave away.
Although the city is taking a hit, Cranley’s relations
with the payroll company appear unscathed. Paycor CEO Bob Coughlin
contributed $1,100 to Cranley’s campaign on Aug. 20, according to
campaign finance reports.Updated with more details about the tax deals between Cincinnati and Paycor.