Plans to move the Record Publishing Co. to Kent could signal a push into a more digital age for the newspaper company.
Kent City Council members unanimously approved a tax abatement request for the company Wednesday that makes it possible to consolidate Record Publishing's employees in their Stow and Ravenna offices into the new Kent operation.
The abatement eliminates 75 percent of the company’s tax burden on their property at 1050 W. Main St. for up to 12 years. Record Publishing plans to invest up to $3 million in the property, according to the tax abatement application filed with Kent.
David Dix, president of Record Publishing, told council members the plan to close the Stow office and relocate the majority of the Ravenna operations is about cutting costs and gaining efficiencies.
But he also said the building, which brings together the company's web development and technology staff, will be designed with flexibility in mind as the news business continues to become more digitally based.
"It’s going to be designed so we can move very quickly if we need to emphasize one part of the business more than another," Dix said. "Print is still our principal business, but as younger generations come along we don’t know if print will be the way they get their messages.
"I think we’re going to try to emphasize web product development more than we are now," he said.
In a previous interview, Dix said the consolidation also is about competing with Patch.com, an independent media company owned by AOL that operates online-only news operations in several of the communities where Record Publishing prints, including Kent and Stow.
"I think for five to 10 years (print) is going to be around for sure. But we don’t know," Dix said Wednesday. "We’re trying to be flexible and act quickly to respond to the challenges in business."
The move will bring all 42 employees in the Stow location and 42 of the 51 workers in Ravenna to Kent. All those employees could be working in Kent by 2014, according to the company's tax abatement application.
The city estimates the abatement means the school district would lose between $9,000 and $14,000 annually. The property lies in a community reinvestment area, which gives the city the ability to approve the abatement without the Kent City Schools' formal approval. The city intends to pay the schools district in full for whatever tax revenue it will lose through the abatement based on the estimated $52,000 in income tax revenue the new employees will bring to the city each year.
"The city would still make money on the income tax side, which is our primary source of revenue," Kent Community Development Director Gary Locke said. "These are all estimated numbers."