In The News

Regional Development Guide: West Chester Township sees continued commercial growth

Business Courier by Amy Howell Hirt, Courier Contributor

Date: Friday, April 20, 2012, 6:00am EDT

One hundred new businesses and 3,600 new jobs, complementing the expansion or relocation of 33 existing businesses that employ 8,200: 2011 was a good year for West Chester Township.

What’s more impressive, perhaps, is that even in the preceding years when many communities saw increased unemployment, the township still created more jobs than it lost.

“Even with the down economy, West Chester still did pretty well,” said Mike Juengling, community development director for West Chester Township.

Bolstered by an established infrastructure, flagship businesses and adjacent available land, the township’s thriving commercial areas seem to have the critical mass to mark another uptick in commercial growth for 2012.

Since the Union Centre Boulevard interchange opened in 1997, the township’s easy highway access, prime position between Cincinnati and Dayton and attractive business incentives have attracted an influx of businesses in the fields of distribution, manufacturing, medical services and education and retail.

Over the last two years, more than 5 million square feet of new office, commercial, distribution, manufacturing and research and development buildings have been constructed or approved, according to the West Chester Development Council. This year, more than a dozen businesses have already opened or announced plans to open.

Creating niches

Major commercial developments often attract similar businesses, and the University Pointe and West Chester Hospital, which opened in 2009, have drawn dozens of medical-related facilities to the uptown area, including eight just last year.

But this concentration near Tylersville Road and the Voice of America Park appeals to businesses beyond the medical fields. The township’s largest retail addition in 2011 was the Aveda Frederic’s Institute in the Voice of America Shopping Center. This summer, the fast-food chain Jack in the Box plans to open its first Ohio store here, and Fresh Market will move into a 23,697-square-foot space.

The township is also in a prime spot to benefit from the growth of bioscience in Ohio. Butler Tech is planning a 24.7-acre bioscience education campus near Cincinnati-Dayton Road that will bring the need for additional businesses, possibly even bioscience-specific, Juengling said.

Bydureon, the first once-weekly injection drug for type 2 diabetes, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in January and is being produced by Amylin Pharmaceuticals at the company’s Union Centre facility. Although the existing resources are sufficient to handle the U.S. launch – the company was allowed to begin manufacturing the drug prior to FDA approval, the need for additional employees “may expand over time as demand for the product increases,” said Cara Amoroso, a spokeswoman for Amylin.

Office, space in demand

While the township now has a mix of business types, there is still consistent demand for office, manufacturing and warehouse space that once dominated the area. The occupancy of Class A office space in the downtown/Union Centre district is at 100 percent, Juengling said, and there is 768,000 square feet of space available in the adjacent Centre Pointe Office Park.

Several locally owned printing, display and manufacturing companies plan to open in the Union Centre area – where AK Steel Corp. moved its corporate headquarters in 2007 and GE Aviation moved into two buildings in 2008 and leased additional office space last year.

The Netrada Corp., an e-commerce service provider that already has its North American headquarters in Union Centre, has leased an additional 192,000-square-foot facility, and Quasonix, a company that designs, develops and manufactures high-performance aeronautical telemetry products, is adding 4,760 square feet to its existing space.

More choices, fewer taxes

For residents, a commercial boom paired with relatively flat residential growth mean greater access to a wider variety of goods and services but also increased funding for schools and township services that, for now, won’t need to go toward the construction of new schools, as the area has experienced in the past.

That reassurance could, in turn, entice more companies and more families to the area.

“One of the things companies consider is quality of life: where their employees (and families) are going to live and go to school,” Juengling said.

Future: more mixed-use

As the housing market shows signs of a rebound, Juengling expects to see more urban-inspired residential options incorporated into mixed-use projects that blend retail, office space and dining and entertainment destinations. Many of the 60 town homes in the Village at the Streets of West Chester, which is being completed in phases, have already sold.