Saturday, July 3, 2004

$455M lure was needed for DHL

Officials say cargo carrier's focus on Ohio

By James Pilcher
Enquirer staff writer

It would have taken an investment of at least nearly a half-billion dollars from air cargo carrier DHL to expand the operation at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and keep the hub here, area economic development officials said Friday.

The $455 million investment in the local hub would have created 2,900 jobs, DHL told Kentucky economic development officials in a May 27 letter, said Dan Tobergte, executive vice president of the Tri-County Economic Development Corp., the agency that tried to keep DHL here.

DHL last week announced it was consolidating its hub operations in Wilmington, about 50 miles northeast of Cincinnati, and would close its Greater Cincinnati hub in September 2005. Ohio offered a $422 million package , including guaranteeing $300 million in low-interest bonds to be repaid by DHL.

Company officials also cited Wilmington's overall size as compared with Cincinnati's as a major reason for the decision, saying the Clinton County operation could handle more than double the freight.

Still, DHL is investing $290 million and pledged to create 900 more jobs at its Wilmington operation, which already employs more than 6,000.

Brussels-based DHL employs about 1,200 locally, and says it will eliminate about 800 jobs here and keep 300 behind. An airline serving DHL employs another 600-plus workers - those workers will be transferred.

The copy of the letter was provided to the Enquirer Friday, but state officials blacked out the amounts. Tobergte confirmed the amounts involved, saying that the letter was the cover to an application for state incentives that was never completed.

"They never followed through and we never got a chance to make them an offer," Tobergte said. "They were serious about Kentucky, but they were clearly focused in on Ohio as their prime objective.

"You could tell from the laundry list of incentives that Ohio put together that there had been some in-depth discussions that never occurred with Kentucky."


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