Friday, August 30, 2013

Ed FitzGerald development deal has shades of John Kasich and JobsOhio deals he has criticized

WESTLAKE, Ohio -- When American Greetings was looking for a new Cleveland-area headquarters in 2011, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald refused to offer financial assistance.

The public, he said then, shouldn't help a company leave one suburb for another.

With state tax credits dangled by Gov. John Kasich, American Greetings ultimately began planning a move to Westlake. FitzGerald, meanwhile, continued with a push to discourage the county's municipalities from "poaching" business from each other.

Two years later, FitzGerald has pledged a $3 million county loan to another local company relocating to Westlake. Equity Trust will take 100 jobs from Berea and 150 from Elyria in Lorain County and consolidate them in an old Cleveland Clinic building. The financial services firm also plans to add 100 jobs from Texas and hire 50 more.

FitzGerald, a Democrat, also is running for governor next year. His county and campaign aides said many factors determine which companies receive incentives and which do not. Comparing any two deals, such as American Greetings and Equity Trust, or a state project and county project – is not always fair because of certain variables.

But FitzGerald's opponents see an inconsistent approach toward economic development motivated by politics and indicative of how he would govern if elected next year.

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