Top Gun Sales Performance owner Steven Osborne needed a larger space to grow his global sales training and operational support business.
Mason city officials wanted to woo high-tech jobs to vacant office space in the heart of the city.
The solution: A unique public-private partnership Mason Mayor David Nichols describes as a “win-win-win” for attracting and nurturing high-tech job growth in Mason.
On Wednesday, city and business officials celebrated the culmination of that collaboration with the opening of the Mason Tech Center.
The partnership launched in late 2011 after Osborne scouted for larger office space to accommodate his fast-growing company of 90 employees.
After considering locations in West Chester and Blue Ash, Osborne approached the city about the former CNG Financial building at 5155 Financial Way, off Mason-Montgomery Road.
With 68,000 square feet, the building offered more than double the space needed by Top Gun — but at a considerable extra cost.
And so, an agreement was reached: The City of Mason and the Mason Port Authority each provided $200,000 loans to support Top Gun’s $4-million relocation.
In return, Top Gun will provide discounted second-floor office space for start-up digital information technology and bio-health IT companies.
Not only are the lease rates “ridiculously low,” said Osborne, but they also include a variety of amenities including utilities, security, internet and janitorial services. Rents are set to gradually increase with lease renews, typically every three years, he said.
“Class A office space goes for about $16 a square foot and that doesn’t include a lot of those amenities. Many of the tenants are in here at $8 and $10 a square foot, some of them at 50 percent market rate. That’s how we’re paying the city back,” said Osborne.
Top Gun’s 20-year deal with Mason includes performance clauses that ensure the city sees a return on its investment via earnings tax revenues, said Michele Blair, the city’s economic development director.
“For every $1 we invest, we really get about another $2 for that,” she said.
Nichols said the city’s support of Top Gun is part of its aggressive approach toward encouraging new business investment, specifically of a high-tech corridor along I-71 north of Fields-Ertel.
The CNG building, which has been vacant for several years, is one of the last remaining Class A buildings available in Mason, he said.
“Everybody used to do a tax abatement, period, and hope the jobs come. That model no longer works,” said Nichols. “This is a return on investment to the community.”
Current tech center tenants include ConnXus, Cloud Takeoff, Hipaax, GoGoGo and Riverbend Worldwide. Top Gun and KPG Creative occupy the building’s first floor.
The building has about 25,000 square feet of available office space, said Osborne.
The move is the latest in a string of high-profile development deals in Mason including Seapine Software’s new $7 million technical center on Western Row Road, and headquarters expansions by AssureRx Health Inc., Rhinestahl Corp. and Intelligrated.
Osborne, a former Mason Council member, started the company in 2000. Some of the company’s worldwide clients include Panasonic, Luxottica and Procter & Gamble.
The company expects to add more than 200 jobs within the next five years — growth made possible due to the partnership with the city, he said.
“If there is any businesses thinking about where to plant roots, if you’re not at least looking at Mason, you’re making a big mistake,” said Osborne. “I’m not saying you have to come here. I’m saying you have to at least look.”