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Nationwide Children's Hospital Asks Schools For 15-Year Abatement

Nationwide Children's Hospital is asking the Columbus City Schools to sign off on a 100-percent tax abatement for a new, for-profit division. Alison Holm reports.

The new subsidiary, which will be called Adelyn Biosciences, will manufacture medicine for gene therapy, initially focusing on two types of muscular atrophy. The building will be built on land owned by Ohio State University, and the requested abatement will divert $19.7 million dollars from the school district over its 15-year span. As a non-profit, Nationwide Children’s has rarely sought tax abatements, but the hospital’s vice president of planning and business development, Libby Hoang, says the for-profit subsidiary is new territory.


“Because it is a different company than what Nationwide Children’s Hospital is, we’re taking a huge risk. We’ll have nearly $30 million of payroll with very limited income. So that’s why we’re asking for the tax abatement, to help us through those times.”


The company, which could launch this summer, will still generate income taxes the district would share with the city. Hoang says the initial 66 full-time employees and $5 million payroll will triple by the time the facility opens in 2024.


Hoang and Mary Kay Irwin, the hospital’s school health service director, reminded the board that since 2015, Nationwide Children’s has operated in school clinics and behavioral programs, at a annual cost to the hospital of $3.2 million. Hoang says those programs could be expanded…


“The intention is for us to provide more behavioral health and primary care services. You hear a lot of conversation about where we can partner on workforce development. Because we’re not going live with the new facility for two and a half years, that’s a little bit in the infant stage, so we will continue to work with them and figure out ways to partner on workforce development as well.”


Any tax abatement must also be approved by Columbus City Council. The school board will vote on the abatement at its first meeting in February. Tax abatements were a sore point in contract talks with the teachers union over the summer, and teachers marched in protest over generous abatements granted by the city. In November the board approved a 30-year tax exemption for a retail development on the Near East Side.


A native of Chicago, naturalized citizen of Cincinnati and resident of Columbus, Alison attended Earlham College and the Ohio State University. She has equal passion for Midwest history, hockey and Slavic poetry.
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