A Topeka-based family business has been awarded incentives totaling as much as $225,000 to help it acquire and revitalize a building at 100 S. Kansas Ave. in downtown Topeka.
The board of directors for the Joint Economic Development Organization voted 7-0 Wednesday to use revenue from a countywide, half-cent sales tax to provide the incentives to The Premier Advisory Group, the umbrella company of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, MotoVike Films and the Bajillion Agency marketing firm.
“We’re so excited to be moving our companies downtown,” said Andrea Engstrom, president of Bajillion and chief managing oficer for the Premier group.
ActionCOACH president Earl Kemper is Engstrom’s father while MotoVike president Josiah Engstrom is her husband, she said.
The Premier group, which employs 17 people full-time, plans to create 45 new jobs over the next five years at an average annual wage of $52,000, said Jackie Steele, vice president of business retention and expansion for the local private organization GO Topeka.
An economic impact analysis conducted by GO Topeka indicates the new jobs will have a $16 million annual recurring impact on the economy of Topeka and Shawnee County, Steele said.
Adding the creative and business improvement-focused jobs would be significant for Topeka, as would the addition of three new companies to the downtown business community, said Mayor Larry Wolgast.
The Premier group, currently located at 3620 S.W. Fairlawn Road, intends to close soon on the purchase of its future home, Andrea Engstrom said.
The group plans to spend $1.6 million to acquire and revitalize the building and $800,000 on equipment, Steele said.
Votes in favor of the incentives were cast by Shawnee County commissioners Bob Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler and Topeka Mayor Wolgast, Deputy Mayor Jeff Coen and council members Tony Emerson and Karen Hiller.
Hiller voted by proxy on behalf of Councilwoman and JEDO board member Michelle De La Isla, who was present for the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting but left to meet another commitment before the incentive matter came up. Councilwoman Sylvia Ortiz also attended but wasn’t eligible to vote.
The Premier group’s name was kept confidential — with the proposal instead being referred to as “Project Leaf” — until the incentives came up for a vote Wednesday.
The incentives are based on job creation and won’t be paid unless the Premier group meets specific requirements, JEDO board members were told.
The three county commissioners and four members of Topeka’s governing body are voting members of the JEDO board, which oversees the use of revenue from a countywide, half-cent sales tax voters approved in a 2014 ballot question election to replace a prior countywide, half-cent sales tax.
Revenue from the half-cent tax includes $5 million going annually toward economic development. JEDO contracts with GO Topeka to administer the economic development program financed using revenue from the tax, and to work to encourage economic development here.
JEDO board members on Wednesday also:
— Voted 7-0 to contract with New York-based Ketchum Global Research & Analytics to carry out a market study regarding the creation of the planned East Topeka Learning Center. JEDO plans to team up with Washburn University and its Institute of Technology to operate the center on property JEDO owns at 2014 S.E. Washington.
— Voted 7-0 to approve the use of $38,000 in carryover funds from GO Topeka’s entrepreneurial and minority business development program to finance part of the market study.
— Heard presentations from GO Topeka staff members.
— Discussed but took no action regarding the 2018 GO Topeka draft budget.
Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.