In The News

Area’s Fortune 500 firms attract others

Other companies locate here in hopes of generating business.

By Chelsey Levingston, Staff Writer

12:33 AM Monday, May 21, 2012

 Fortune 500 companies based in this region, including AK Steel Corp., have a bigger impact on local communities than most people realize, management and development experts say.

AK Steel Corp., which is based in West Chester Twp. and whose steel plant operates in Middletown, was ranked this month the 381st largest American company by Fortune 500. The Fortune 500 list is a well-known annual ranking of the nation’s largest public companies by total revenues published by Fortune Magazine.

Butler County has nearly a quarter of the Fortune 500 companies in Ohio in its backyard. Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Macy’s, Fifth Third Bancorp and Western & Southern Financial Group and AK Steel are based in the Cincinnati region. Ohio has 28 Fortune 500 companies. None are based in the Dayton area.

Cincinnati Financial Corp., which is based in Fairfield and is the county’s third largest employer, has been listed in past years.

These companies are a major resource for the community to draw on, said Ralph Katerberg, head of the management department of University of Cincinnati’s college of business.

“It’s bragging rights for economic development, bragging rights for attracting new talent,” Katerberg said. “It’s higher paid positions that go with that kind of thing and it’s the seat of power for that company. With that comes a more vibrant economy in the region. If you’ve got more people making $100,000, that’s better for the economy.”

In fact, when former Fortune 500 company Chiquita Brands International announced in 2011 plans to move to North Carolina, it was said the loss was just as much about 300 high-paying jobs as it was a hit on Cincinnati’s image.

AK Steel is Butler County’s second-largest employer, with approximately 2,400 workers between its headquarters and steel plant Middletown Works. The steelmaker has inched up the list since falling out of the top 500 companies in 2010, gaining two spots this year over last. Its total revenues for 2011 were approximately $6.5 billion, compared to approximately $6 billion in 2010 and about $4.1 billion in 2009, according to company reports.

“The Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations is considered the annual benchmark of business. It is an honor for AK Steel to be included,” said AK Steel spokesman Barry Racey.

Racey said AK Steel’s revenues increased from 2010 to 2011 primarily because of higher selling prices.

A burst of business in Middletown of mostly AK steel suppliers is estimated to create hundreds of new jobs and more than $568 million in new investment during the next three years, according to city and company officials.

About 10 companies have expanded in the last year or have plans to in 2012 on Yankee Road in Middletown.

Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Macy’s and Fifth Third are based in Cincinnati, but have operations in Butler and Warren counties. Procter & Gamble has about 2,000 employees at its Mason Business Center and about 350 in West Chester Twp. at the Beckett Ridge Technical Center.

Kroger’s 17 stores in Butler and Warren counties employ 2,800 people.

Macy’s Credit and Customer Service employs 1,924 people in Deerfield Twp., according to Warren County Office of Economic Development.

Businesses looking to enter the area always ask who the largest employers are, said Mike Juengling, community development director of West Chester Twp. and former director of development of Butler County.

“They help us and help the community attract similar businesses or businesses that are potentially doing business with that Fortune 500 company,” Juengling said.

1. Exxon Mobil $452.9 billion

2. Walmart Stores $446.95 billion

23. Kroger $90.4 billion

27. Procter & Gamble $82.6 billion

110. Macy’s $26.4 billion

372. Fifth Third Bancorp $6.7 billion

381. AK Steel Corp. $6.5 billion

482. Western & Southern Financial Group $4.99 billion