County OKs tax abatement for Albany pharmaceutical facility

The Athens County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an enterprise zone agreement, with a 60-percent real-estate tax abatement for 10 years, with a local pharmaceutical manufacturing company to construct a building in Albany and create at least 75 full-time jobs over the next three years.

RXQ Compounding, LLC, an FDA-licensed “outsourcing” business based in the Ohio University Innovation Center in Athens, is set to build a 35,000-square-foot building on Blizzard Lane in Albany, a roughly $1.5 million to $2.5 million project (RXQ already purchased a building nearby for about $790,000).

The company also will retain about 17 jobs in addition to the proposed 75 additional full-time jobs, which will pay an average of $18 an hour, said RXQ CEO and managing partner Ed Zatta.

Zatta on Tuesday (after the county Commissioners meeting) said the jobs will call for varying levels of skills, from sales to pharmacy tech and pharmacist positions to shipping; he also noted that some of the employees will move to the Albany area, which is about a 15-minute drive from Athens.

The tax abatement the company received will last for 10 years, but if the company does not live up to the obligations listed in the agreement (including the promise to create the 75 jobs), the arrangement has a “claw back” provision that allows a tax incentive review council, composed of the county Commissioners and others, to take back the money the company saved from the tax abatement.

The company was also provided an aid package by JobsOhio, including a $100,000 grant and a $2 million loan.

“We are thrilled to support RXQ’s national platform growth from its Athens, Ohio base,” said Aaron Pitts, JobsOhio senior managing director for biohealth, in a provided statement. “RXQ provides a valuable service to health providers across the USA, has a talented leadership team and board, and is poised for long-term growth. Along with our partners at APEG, we look forward to working with RXQ as it continues to increase its capital investment and creates more great jobs in Athens County.”

The agreement with RXQ was facilitated by the Athens County Economic Development Council, whose major partners include Athens County, Athens city and Ohio University.

ACEDC Executive Director Sara Marrs-Maxfield asked the Commissioners during the meeting if their priorities had changed regarding what the Economic Development Council’s priorities should be with regard to the types of projects it brings forward to the Commissioners.

“The Commissioners in the past have said, ‘don’t bring us projects that (use) taxpayer resources unless there’s a significant investment being made and a significant opportunity being created for the citizens,’” Marrs-Maxfield said. “I wanted to make sure we’re still on the same page.”

Commissioners chair Lenny Eliason said that that philosophy hasn’t changed.

Marrs-Maxfield noted that the building that RXQ purchased has been unoccupied for some time, meaning it was not generating any tax money.

RXQ also runs pharmacies at Ohio University and OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital (Castrop Center), Zatta explained, as well as some other area pharmacies.