Port authority helps finance Warren County bank expansion

The Warren County Port Authority approved at its meeting Wednesday a financing deal with LCNB Corp., which is building a new approximately 48,500-square-foot office building near the intersection of Silver and Broadway streets.

Construction on the new bank office facility, located near the company's historic headquarters also on Broadway Street, comes on the heels of the Lebanon-based bank's growth in recent years through a series of acquisitions.

The total approximately $10 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the year or early 2017, and will house the bank’s call center, accounting, technology and other back-office workers, said LCNB Chief Executive Officer and President Steve Foster. The bank’s headquarters will remain at its current site at 2 N. Broadway St. in downtown Lebanon, according to LCNB.

Under Ohio law, port authorities can own, finance, construct and lease real estate including land, building and equipment, according to the Ohio Council of Port Authorities. If a port authority buys or owns a property for an expanding business, construction materials purchased in the state are tax-exempt.

The deal approved Wednesday sees the Warren County Port Authority take ownership of the property, which will be leased back to the bank for a $1 per year for the land for 35 years; and $1,000 a year for the building for 10 years. The bank is still responsible for other construction and operation costs. In exchange for the tax savings, the bank will also pay the port authority a one-time fee, according to the port authority agreement.

The port authority also has similar lease agreements with other business projects such as AK Steel's approximately $36 million Research and Innovation Center under construction now in Middletown.

Steve Wilson, chairman of LCNB and member of the port authority board, abstained from Wednesday’s decision on the deal.

The city has also dedicated about $895,000 to the project from funds it received to redevelop the Lebanon racetrack and fairgrounds. Of that amount, about $195,000 will be spent on public infrastructure such as streetscape and intersection improvements, said Jason Millard, Lebanon economic development director. A city community center was also donated to the bank.

LCNB's recent acquisitions include: BNB Bancorp Inc. and its banking subsidiary, Brookville National Bank, a deal that closed in 2015; five branch offices of Eaton National Bank & Trust Co. in Preble County in a 2014 deal; and First Capital Bankshares Inc., the parent company of Citizens National Bank of Chillicothe, in a 2013 deal.

LCNB National Bank operates more than 30 offices in Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Fayette, Hamilton, Montgomery, Preble, Ross and Warren counties.

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