Sherwin-Williams Incentives Pass County Economic Development Committee

The future location of the Sherwin-Williams headquarters, just west of Public Square between St. Clair and Superior Avenues in Downtown Cleveland
The future location of the Sherwin-Williams headquarters, just west of Public Square between St. Clair and Superior Avenues. [Nick Castele / ideastream]

A resolution that would give county funds to Sherwin-Williams as part of an incentive package for building a new headquarters got a unanimous thumbs up from a Cuyahoga County Council committee Tuesday.

The resolution, which calls for a grant of up to $14 million in the construction of Sherwin-Williams’ proposed 500,000-square-foot Downtown Cleveland building and Brecksville research and development site, moves on to the full council for consideration, which could come as early as next week.

The county’s contribution is just one part of a larger incentive package to keep the company local. Sherwin-Williams is also receiving incentives from the state of Ohio and the cities of Cleveland and Brecksville. Those deals have not yet been made public.

“The county council is going to have to have that information in order to make final approval, as excited as we are about this,” said council member Dan Brady.

Cuyahoga County representatives told the county council’s Economic Development and Planning Committee Tuesday they could not provide any information on the city or state portions of the incentives package, though Chief Economic Development & Business Officer Ted Carter said the county contribution will be the smallest of the publicly funded deals.

“Sherwin-Williams was clear that it wanted support from the local community,” Carter said. “We now have two non-performing properties that will benefit from catalytic new investment: three vacant parking lots west of Public Square in downtown Cleveland, and an 80-acre vacant [Veterans’ Administration] site in Brecksville.”

The grant funding would come from various county funds: $5 million from the economic development fund, $2 million from community development and the remaining $7 million would come from general reserves.

Sherwin-Williams is expected to enter into various agreements regarding the grant, including a Workforce Development Agreement. If job retention requirements are not met, the grant is subject to a clawback.

Expecting To Break Ground In 2021

The new facilities will maintain 3,500 current jobs within the company and bring 400 more in the near future, said Vice President of Global Corporate Communications Julie Young.

“This will be a multi-year project. At the earliest, we expect to start enabling work such as moving utilities and demolition in the summer of this year,” Young said. “We expect an official groundbreaking in spring of 2021.”

The new building project will have an economic impact well beyond the global paint company’s new headquarters site, said Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, Northeast Ohio’s 18-county business and economic development group.

“It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that we addressed the project with great care,” Koehler said. “I hope you will see, in the work that we have done, great focus from our partners in the economic development community.”

An independent third party is evaluating the potential economic impact of the project, Koehler said, and preliminary results show the project will bring around 5,300 jobs. But Koehler did not reveal the identity of the third party or the methods of evaluation.

Even temporary construction workers will bring money into the city by eating at local restaurants, shopping, and more, said Downtown Cleveland Alliance President and CEO Joe Marinucci.

“From Downtown’s perspective, the million square feet of the new headquarters facility will be catalytic,” Marinucci said. “It will retain thousands of jobs, with the opportunity to add additional jobs in the near term. It will redevelop long-underutilized land in the historic warehouse district and in the historic downtown.”

The downtown headquarters will replace three parking lots in the warehouse district, which Marinucci said has struggled to develop for decades.

Downtown's Gain Is A Loss For Warrensville Heights 

Not everyone is happy with the site selection, however. Warrensville Heights expects to lose 15 percent of its annual city revenue when Sherwin-Williams departs for Downtown Cleveland in 2023, said Mayor Brad Sellers.

“What I’m down here for right now is trying to make sure that I work with the county council, I work with Sherwin-Williams to try and reposition the property,” Sellers said. “We think there is ample opportunity for growth beyond their departure.”

The automotive finishing site also provides 400 jobs to the city. County and company officials are meeting with Warrensville Heights leaders to discuss ways to redevelop the site when Sherwin-Williams leaves.

Finding ways to help Warensville Heights make use of the 80-acre former site will be a priority for the county, said county Economic Development Officer Carter.

“I had no idea there was that much acreage behind that building,” Carter said. “It’s top of mind for my team and I, and I’m confident this will be one of the most compelling sites [for development.]”

Sherwin-Williams is not expected to relocate until 2023 at the earliest, said Sherwin-Williams Vice President of Global Corporate Communications Julie Young. The company also plans to assist in finding ways to redevelop the Warrensville Heights location.

Brecksville was expected to release its incentives package later on Tuesday, the state in the next three weeks and the City of Cleveland in the coming week.

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