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Proton therapy firm behind Dayton project gets state tax credit

The California company behind a plan to open a proton beam therapy center in the Dayton area has been approved for a seven-year tax credit with an estimated value of about $600,000.

The California company behind a plan to open a cancer-treating proton beam therapy center in the Dayton area has been approved for a seven-year tax credit with an estimated value of about $600,000.

Optivus Proton Therapy Inc. would be required to maintain operations at the Miami Township project location for 10 years as a condition of receiving the tax credit, according to a statement from the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD).

The tax credit would take effect in January 2011 and would end December 2017, according to ODOD.

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Last year, Optivus announced plans for a $170 million, 80,000-square-foot center that it says will create 400 jobs in Dayton. Proton centers are expensive to construct because they hold about 600 tons of machinery and equipment, Optivus CEO Jon Slater said earlier this year.

Optivus and Kettering Medical Center plan to open competing proton therapy centers in the Dayton area, with each one projecting 2013 as the opening date. The proposals have stirred a bit of controversy because there are only eight proton therapy centers operating in the United States. Critics have argued that opening two in the same area could lead to a “medical arms race” of escalating costs as the projects’ organizers look to attract patients for whom proton therapy may not be ideal in order to recoup the costs of constructing the centers.

Proton therapy is a method of treating certain types of cancer. It is especially useful for sensitive locations, such as the eye or spinal cord in which misplaced radiation can cause lots of damage. It’s used to fight a wide variety of cancers including prostate, breast and lung.

Optivus operates what was the nation’s first proton therapy center in a hospital, which opened in Southern California in 1990 and is named for Slater’s father, a physician who was an early advocate of proton therapy.