UPDATED: Gahanna-based ADB Safegate to build research-development, training facility

·6 min read
Joe Pokoj (left), ADB Safegate global chief operating officer and executive vice president of its airfield business line, and Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin pose for a photo at the site of where ADB Safegate will build a research-and-development facility at Science Boulevard and Tech Center Drive. Jadwin and Pokoj spoke during a groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 7.
Joe Pokoj (left), ADB Safegate global chief operating officer and executive vice president of its airfield business line, and Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin pose for a photo at the site of where ADB Safegate will build a research-and-development facility at Science Boulevard and Tech Center Drive. Jadwin and Pokoj spoke during a groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 7.

A Gahanna manufacturing company is expanding its operations, building a research-and-development facility at Science Boulevard and Tech Center Drive.

ADB Safegate broke ground Dec. 7 for a 175,000-square-foot facility, called a Center of Innovation, and will invest $1.5 million and add 24 jobs, according to a Dec. 6 news release from the company and One Columbus, the economic-development organization for the 11-county central Ohio region.

Mike Morrow, chief financial officer (Americas) at ADB Safegate, said the new center is scheduled to open in October 2022.

He said the business wanted to stay in the area where it has been since 1983 in addition to being in close proximity to John Glenn Columbus International Airport, a key customer.

Founded in Belgium in 1920 as ADB, ADB Safegate has grown into a global brand with a significant business footprint in Ohio, Belgium, Sweden and China, according to Morrow.

“To accommodate future growth, we knew we had to move locations,” he said. “Gahanna has been good to us all this time. We wanted to try to stay here.”

Gahanna Mayor Laurie Jadwin said ADB Safegate is a leader in the aerospace industry.

“This is a hugely impactful project for the city of Gahanna,” she said. “(They’re) looking to add a minimum of 20 jobs with an average estimated annual salary of $117,000 apiece, which is estimated to generate net new annual payroll ranging from $2.35 million to $4.7 million over the next several years."

Hiring for engineering, production and other roles will begin in 2022, according to the release.

The "Project Gaul Presentation" on the city of Gahanna's website, dated Oct. 11, shows this rendering for how ADB Safegate's facilities would appear.
The "Project Gaul Presentation" on the city of Gahanna's website, dated Oct. 11, shows this rendering for how ADB Safegate's facilities would appear.

"This is a growth industry for Gahanna," Jadwin said. "It involves STEM jobs, engineering jobs, etc., which we all know are extremely important to our state leadership but extremely important to the region. This project not only solidifies ADB Safegate’s investment here in Gahanna, but it also solidifies Gahanna’s role within the region of being a hub for STEM-focused careers. It’s going to create workforce opportunities, abilities for us to partner with our school district to introduce students to those types of careers. It’s just a tremendous investment that’s being made."

Gahanna has been working for months with ADB Safegate, which also had been considering other communities, according to city documents dated Oct. 11.

Plans are in the works to extend Tech Center, and Gahanna City Council heard a first reading of legislation Dec. 6 to authorize the mayor to enter into agreements with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Development for the project.

The one involving the Ohio Department of Transportation totals $77,183, and the other totals $280,000. The city would contribute $119,060 toward the project that's expected to cost $476,243 for a 1,000-foot extension, according to city documents.

ADB Safegate, a manufacturer at 977 Gahanna Parkway, is a leading provider of solutions that boost efficiency, improve safety, raise environmental sustainability and reduce operational costs for airports and airlines worldwide, according to its website.

Morrow said the new center would be utilized as a training facility for North American operations and function as a showcase for customers, suppliers and business partners.

“Our business is an assembling/manufacturing plant, and our back-office functions are in one building,” he said. “We will continue to do production and back-office support functions. We will expand training offerings. We train airport personnel and contractors on maintaining our products and systems. We’ll try to bring customers on-site for training and have hands-on training.”

Morrow said some product offerings also would be expanded.

“We’ll expand our portfolio and insource some things, grow our production personnel,” he said. “We’ll do this innovation topic, focus on new developments and invest in electrical and environmental labs. We had relied on external companies to do testing for us. We’ll do that internally with our engineering folks. We’ll have a full gamut of training as we grow into this new building.”

Once the center is open, Morrow said, he estimates 50-plus employees will be trained there annually, excluding third parties.

“That’s a fourth of our current headcount,” he said.

“Expanding into a new world-class facility in Gahanna is critical to our continued growth, and keeping our talent pool closely concentrated will spur collaboration and teamwork,” said Joe Pokoj, ADB Safegate global chief operating officer and executive vice president of its airfield business line. “This Center of Innovation will allow us to continue pursuing new advancements in aviation technology with the support of the region’s skilled talent pool and in close proximity to key assets such as John Glenn (Columbus) International Airport.”

The project, referred to in public documents as “Project Gaul,” includes the capital investment of about $20 million, including construction of the joint manufacturing and research-and-development facility and the creation of at least 20 jobs, with additional jobs to be added over time, according to city documents.

Project Gaul is a reference to Charles de Gaulle, the former president of France.

According to the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the new ADB Safegate facility will be built on 9.23 acres at Science Boulevard and Tech Center Drive
According to the Franklin County Auditor's Office, the new ADB Safegate facility will be built on 9.23 acres at Science Boulevard and Tech Center Drive

ADB Safegate began operations in Gahanna in 1983, and its current operations are staffed by 202 full-time employees, according to the release.

“ADB Safegate has been a premier employer and valued partner in the city of Gahanna for nearly four decades,” Jadwin said.

ADB Safegate also received grants through JobsOhio. In addition, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 1.48%, seven-year Job Creation Tax Credit for this project.

J.P. Nauseef, JobsOhio president and CEO, said ADB Safegate continues to expand its global business in the central Ohio region, creating job opportunities for Ohioans while preparing the company for years of future growth.

“The new Center of Innovation will help ADB Safegate recruit and retain talent that will play an essential role as the company advances safety and efficiencies at airports worldwide,” Nauseef said.

City Council unanimously approved legislation Oct. 18 to authorize a community-reinvestment-area agreement with Science One LLC – representing ADB Safegate – for a 100% tax abatement for 15 years on the increased value of property on Science Boulevard and to authorize a development agreement with Science One and a real-estate purchase agreement with the Community Improvement Corp. of Gahanna for the property.

The development agreement between the city and Science One showed a final development plan for ADB Safegate on 9.23 acres of city-owned property at Science Boulevard and Tech Center Drive, and the parcel ID shows it east of Science and south of Tech Center, which ends at Science, according to the Franklin County Auditor’s Office website.

According to an action item detailed in an Oct. 7 report from Nathan Strum, economic-development director, to City Council, the company’s operations employ more than 200, with an annual income tax to the city of $562,500.

The city is estimating the abatement value at roughly $3 million over the abatement period.

In addition, the abatement would necessitate compensation to Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools of about $900,000 over the period, according to the document.

The developer is prepared to compensate the city’s Community Improvement Corp. fair-market value of $830,700 for the property, according to the city document.

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This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: UPDATED: Gahanna manufacturer ADB Safegate to build innovation center

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