North Canton Mayor David Held didn’t want his city to be left out of the competitive scramble to woo Diebold’s new headquarters. On Monday, he met with Diebold executives and proposed three sites.
The day after Diebold said it would build its new headquarters in Summit or Stark counties, Mayor David Held called Diebold to promote North Canton as a possible new home for the global ATM manufacturer.
“We would like to have the Diebold headquarters in North Canton,” Held said. “It would be a privilege to have a Fortune 500 company with 1,500 jobs coming into the community. That would (help) make up for the 2,400 jobs we lost with the Hoover facility.”
On Monday, Held and his city administrator, Michael Grimes, met with executives on the Diebold site selection team and two developers in company offices in Green. They discussed three possible sites: the 105-acre city-owned Fairways of North Canton golf course, the 60-acre city-owned Oster Property in Plain Township where the city has its water wells and the 80-acre Hoover district.
“They said they’d be interested in the city presenting a proposal,” said Held, who pledged to submit a preliminary site and tax incentive proposal in two to four weeks.
Held shared several details about his interest in luring Diebold to his city in an interview Tuesday. The mayor said he chose to pursue a Diebold headquarters shortly after the company announced on April 12 that a $56 million state incentive package had convinced executives to keep Diebold in Ohio and the Stark-Summit area.
Held said he did not yet have the answers to questions about how a Diebold campus would affect quality of life for people who live nearby.
How would a Diebold facility on the Fairways site, which would have to be rezoned by the city’s planning commission and city council from Park and Institutional to Light Industrial, affect local traffic? How would a Diebold complex on the Oster property, which would have to have adequate access to Whipple Avenue NW, affect the city water supply?
“That’s something we’re going to be looking at,” said Held, adding that the city would hold public meetings if Diebold selects North Canton. “We’re going to seek input from the residents.”
Canton Mayor William J. Healy II, who has been in discussions with Diebold about a possible Canton site for nine months, said North Canton’s bid has not led Canton to change its offer.
“We made a proposal, and we’ve made the final cut in terms of how they’ve narrowed it down,” said Healy, who along with other officials declined to identify the Canton site or share details.
“I don’t have a clue of what North Canton has put together,” said Canton Council President Allen Schulman. “They have come late to the game. I think we’re certainly ahead of them in putting our presentation together and our offer together.”
Steve Paquette, president of the Stark Development Board, said, “I’m not sure (North Canton’s bid) has any real effect on (Canton’s bid), but that’s my own opinion.”
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Held said that if North Canton were to get the Diebold headquarters, its 1,500 employees and a $90 million-a-year payroll, city income tax revenue would grow by $1.3 million a year.
Diebold spokesman Michael Jacobsen declined to comment on North Canton’s proposal. He said the company still has three to five possible sites and hopes to make a final decision within several weeks.
“Our position as to the number of sites we’ve identified is unchanged,” Jacobsen said. “I’m not going to get into any sites that we’ve eliminated or moved up our list. ... We’re not going to comment on any specifics on what type or size of acreage we’re looking at.”
Held indicated that Diebold did not appear to be excited about the Hoover District because it already has existing buildings.
The North Canton mayor said he envisioned that a Diebold campus on the Fairways site would have a 25-acre park buffer zone.
Such an area could protect nearby residents from any activities such as noise, lighting and traffic at the facility. However, would the residents north of Everhard Road NW, who could block a rezoning by putting it on the ballot with petition signatures, be amenable to having a large $105 million corporate complex in their midst?
If the headquarters was on the Oster property in Plain Township, North Canton would be prevented from annexing it because Canton has annexed an adjoining railroad. Held said his city would form a Joint Economic Development District with the township and share the tax revenue.
Another question: given the challenges of developing the North Canton sites for Diebold, is the company using North Canton’s interest to extract further inducements from Canton, Green and other cities? Diebold has said it expects to receive $44 million in additional incentives from local governments.
“The more competitive the proposals are, the better it is for Diebold,” Held acknowledged.