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Avon wins Bendix headquarters, but at what cost to Elyria?

Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 25, 2020

AVON, Ohio — A tale of two Lorain County cities working hard for more than $1 million in annual tax revenue and 550 jobs from the Bendix North American Headquarters.

Elyria fighting to keep the more than 70 year tradition of Bendix being located in their city alive, while the City of Avon offered $1.1 million in annual tax incentives, hoping the company would build a new world headquarters in its city.

Bendix would decide to move its revenue and jobs out of Elyria and into Avon, a city that has benefited from a dramatic expansion in recent years.

Avon Mayor Bryan Jensen told News 5 he feels fortunate his city was able to lure Bendix to Avon, but said he's quite aware it came at price to Elyria, perhaps as much as $2 million in lost annual revenue.

Jensen said he told Bendix that Elyria was the best choice, but when he learned the company was determined to move, and was looking at a location in Illinois, he worked hard to at least keep Bendix in Lorain County.

“The hits keep coming, we’re really fortunate,” Jensen said.

“But It comes with a little bit of a bitter-sweet because a neighboring city is losing those jobs here."

"It’s always a little bit where you just feel bad, but you also realize that if we didn’t step up, I don’t think Bendix is in this area.”

Elyria Mayor Frank Whitfield applauded his cities effort in trying to keep Bendix in Elyria and said they are attempt to have other companies look at his city as a possible destination.

“We’re looking at $1.5 million, up to $2 million in lost revenue, which is a huge hit," Whitfield said.

“But now other business are contacting us, saying we want to come in, we want to be part of this.”

“Our city is not intimidated by our challenges, we’re inspired by them. And so I think in essence this opportunity has awakened us as a city.”

Both Mayor Whitfield and Mayor Jensen told News 5 they don't believe instituting a no-poaching policy countywide is an answer in stopping neighboring cities from competing against each other.

A no poaching policy was attempted in Cuyahoga County in 2011, with some 40 cities signing on.

“Some times you can enforce a policy that can have negative ramifications, where a company can say, since you have this, I’m going to leave the county entirely,” Whitfield said.

Both Whitfield and Jensen favored the possibility of revenue sharing between winning and losing cities, but only if the State of Ohio offered funding to assist with moving a large employer from one Ohio city to another.

“The state doesn't help out as much as they could, so for us to give up revenue from the city of Avon, that hurts what’s going on in Avon to bring it here, but if the state helps out, we’re more than willing to share,” Jensen said.

Jensen said Bendix is set to start construction on its new headquarters on more than 50 acres on Chester Road in April or May.