Hamilton requires almost $90K from Vora company for job shortfalls

Hamilton has required Vora Technology Park to pay it $89,346 for not meeting terms of a development agreement that was put in place when Barclaycard moved its call center to the city in 2015.

At the time, it was Ohio’s largest job announcement in several years, with the promise of 1,500 jobs, to be ramped up over several years, with an estimate payroll of $49 million, City Manager Joshua Smith said.

“We provided a one-time incentive of $1.6 million … to bring them to Hamilton,” when Barclaycard was looking across the Greater Cincinnati region for a place to locate, Smith recently told Hamilton City Council. It was a forgivable loan to help Vora buy equipment, machinery and make building renovations.

At that time, “We entered into an agreement with the owners of the Vora Tech building, the former Champion office building, that the only reason we were providing that incentive was we were expecting an equal amount of money back over a certain number of years, in income-tax revenue,” Smith added.

Mahendra Vora, chairman of the Vora Technology Group, which owns Vora Technology Park, at 101 Knightsbridge Drive, was out of town Thursday and unavailable to comment.

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“I think it’s important for not only council, but for the public to understand this: We do monitor those agreements, and there was a claw-back provision, and we did receive a check for roughly $90,000 this year, because they did not hit their projection, where they were supposed to be at this year,” Smith said. “And if they do not hit their projection next year, I believe they’re going to owe us in September $160,000.”

Cheryl Vitek of the company said, “We have a great working relationship with the city and we simply followed the terms of the forgivable loan.”

“We want them to be successful,” Smith added. “I would rather them bring the jobs in, and not have to pay us back, but if they do not bring the jobs in, the promise we made to the public was we would claw back that money.”

The $1.6 million ultimately should either be received by Hamilton through income taxes, or the claw-back penalties, he said. The city did not provide information about the number of jobs now there.

Smith said the city and company remain on good terms.

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“We met face-to-face, and had a conversation with them, and they understood it was the terms of the agreement, and within 10 days, they sent us a check,” Smith said.

Smith told this media outlet having Barclaycard in Hamilton “is a big win for the community, region and state.”

He added: “Not only only do they employ many residents, they have been a great corporate partner and frequently volunteer throughout our community. We look forward to many more years of growth with Barclaycard at Vora Technology Park.”

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