Jeff is a collector of vinyl records in the areas of jazz, soul and R&B. Much to his wife’s chagrin, he even built special heavy duty shelving units to hold vinyl records purchased since the early 2000s.
Jeffry Harris’ career spans more than two decades in Ohio’s economic development, largely from within government and now at Bricker. One of the firm’s public finance attorneys, Jeffry’s practice includes serving as counsel to local economic developers, including their statewide trade organizations and regional network partners, advising county land banks, and, since the onset of COVID-19, guiding public sector clients in deploying federal and state stimulus funds.
Experienced in structuring public finance deals, Jeffry particularly focuses on real property tax exemption mechanisms, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Enterprise Zone and CRA tax abatements. Jeffry’s practice includes forming and counseling Joint Economic Development Districts and New Community Authorities. He especially enjoys helping clients to model, and understand, the economic impacts on projects and communities from the use of such development tools; Jeffry strives to help clients determine if the “juice is worth the squeeze” when considering various economic development incentives.
At the state, county and city levels, Jeffry held various attorney and non-attorney public service roles. He began his career at the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), where he spent 10 years managing the State’s economic development grant portfolio, its job-creation tax incentives, and its state oversight of local property tax abatements. Jeffry left state service after holding the title of the agency’s interim CFO. Jeffry then served as the economic development manager and assistant law director for the City of Worthington, an inner-ring suburb of Columbus. Immediately prior to joining the Bricker team, Jeffry was the chief executive officer of the Area Development Foundation (Knox County, Ohio), a county-level nonprofit economic development organization; in this role, he also served as general counsel for the county land bank.
"Thank you to you and your team for all your work leading up to [our] introduction of the many ARPA-related pieces of legislation. With such numerous and complicated legal questions, your counsel has been quite helpful."
"Just wanted to let you know that we are thrilled to have you as our legal counsel for the ARPA Funds."
Advise public entities on spending ARPA funds
The firm currently advises approximately three dozen public entity clients across Ohio. We often take calls from around the country based on our regularly published articles detailing whether and how to spend ARPA funds. Our work includes serving as ARPA counsel to one of the nation’s largest municipal recipients of federal stimulus funds and advising several counties that have collectively received hundreds of millions in ARPA funds.
Goal-setting for southeastern Ohio communities' short-term development
Advised five local governments in Ohio’s Appalachian Region in pursuing near-term economic development goals. Provided plan deliverables to each community, with recommended steps to be taken in expanding broadband access, developing “spec” buildings, financing public improvements, and using one-time American Rescue Plan Act funds for critical infrastructure.
Legal counsel in deploying CARES Act's Coronavirus Relief Fund Payments
Advise regional organizations and political subdivisions in the lawful use of federal Coronavirus Relief Fund Payments, often under rushed deadlines. Provide guidance in local governments’ efforts to distribute desperately needed cash during the COVID-19 public health emergency, dispensing advice as to specific expenditures related to particular needs in the communities.
Legal counsel concerning public records and open meetings under Ohio's Sunshine Law
Advised an economic development organization’s board under the Open Meetings Act, including lawful sharing of information during executive session. Provided legal advice on which records in the organization were public and which could be lawfully withheld from requesters.
General Counsel to county land bank in western Ohio
Advised new county land reutilization corporation (i.e., county land bank) in its formation, including generating and reviewing the entire set of incorporating documents and guiding the proper State filings. Provide general legal counsel to land bank’s operations, often in the context of “Can we do this?” questions posed by the client.
Revolving Loan Fund practitioner
Administered all aspects of a county-level economic development loan fund, including originating loans, processing loan applications, and generating the entire set of documents comprising each loan’s closing binder.
How-to guidance to local economic developers in accessing State funds
Engaged by multiple regional network partners in Ohio to guide their member economic developers in accessing JobsOhio funding opportunities.
Professional & Community Activities
- Development Finance Certified Professional, Council of Development Finance Agencies, 2014
Presentations & Published Works
- Presenter, “Refresher on Economic Development Tools,” Ohio Municipal League, Columbus, Ohio, January 2023
- Presenter, “Deploying American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding in Ohio,” Council of Development Finance Agencies, Ohio Financing Roundtable, Columbus, Ohio, September 2022
- Presenter, “American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Overview,” Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association Annual Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, December 2021
- Presenter, “Local Income Tax Incentives,” Ohio Economic Development Institute, Columbus, Ohio, August 2021
- Presenter, “ARPA Local Fiscal Recovery Funds’ Dos & Don’ts: What’s eligible, and how can you buy it?,” County Sanitary Engineers Association of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, June 2021
- Presenter, “Building County Land Banks’ Capital Stacks,” Ohio Land Bank Association, Columbus, Ohio, June 2021
- Presenter, “Making the Incentive Decision: Return on (Taxpayers’) Investment,” Ohio Economic Development Institute, Columbus, Ohio, June 2021
- Presenter, "American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA): Impact on Local Governments & Small Businesses," Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Toledo, Ohio, April 2021
- Presenter, "Ohio’s Enterprise Zone (EZ) Program and Law Webinar,” Ohio Economic Development Institute, Columbus, Ohio, April 2021
- Panelist, "Economic Development & Community Development Efforts - Discrepancies Without Differences," Team NEO - Northeast Ohio Development Exchange (NODE), Cleveland, Ohio, March 2021
- Presenter, "County Land Banks: Overview and Future Directions," County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, March 2021
- Presenter, “ROI and Gap Analysis for Economic Development,” Ohio Economic Development Institute, Columbus, Ohio, March 2021
- Presenter, "Ohio's Sunshine Laws: Transparency in the Time of COVID." Ohio Municipal League Annual Conference, Columbus, Ohio, November 2020
- Presenter, "Revitalize Blighted Properties with Land Banks," Lorman Live Webinar, November 2020
- Presenter, "CICs on Steroids: County Land Reutilization Corp's under R.C. Chapter 1724," Ohio Economic Development Association, Annual Summit, Columbus, Ohio, September 2020
- Presenter, "Economic Development Financial Incentives: Lessons Learned and Secrets Spilled," K-12 Wednesday Webinar, August 2020
- Presenter, "Revolving Loan Fund Management," Council of Development Finance Agencies, Development Finance Summer School, August 2020
- Presenter, "What to do with your Community's CARES Act - Coronavirus Relief Funds," Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Columbus, Ohio, July 2020
- Presenter, "Opportunity Zone Technical Assistance Program," Opportunity Appalachia forum, January 2020
- Course instructor, "Intro to Revolving Loan Fund," CDFA Summer School, Detroit, Michigan, August 2019
- Author and editor, Knox County Comprehensive Plan (2018 Update)
- Author, "The Wily Devils Lurking in the Details of Real Property Tax Exemptions," OML Cities and Villages, July/August 2016
Bar Admissions & Activities
- Admitted, State of Ohio, 2003
- Member, Ohio State Bar Association
Awards & Recognition
- Recipient, Quality of Life Award, Knox County Chamber of Commerce, 2018
- Member, Inaugural Leadership Academy, Ohio State Bar Association, 2015
- Recipient, Outstanding Volunteer Award, The Central Ohio Chapter of NAIOP, 2014
- Listed, 20 People to Know in Economic Development, Columbus Business First, 2013
- The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law (J.D.), 2003
- The Ohio State University, (Master of Public Administration), 2000
- Bowling Green State University (B.A. cum laude), 1997; Phi Beta Kappa
Since the late 1980s (when it was terrible), Cleveland’s major league baseball team has been a summer go-to source of respite or consternation for Jeff. And his family is thrilled (not really) that all 162 Indians games are on the radio or television (seemingly every night!) during the season.
No matter the weather – or the amount of mud – Jeff makes the effort nearly every day to throw the ball for his ever-loyal golden retriever (Pete). This allows time for outdoor exercise in the yard and deep-thinking about client matters – we’ll let you decide who is doing which.