Clark County saw promises of new jobs, several business expansions in 2019

Clark County saw promises of new jobs, several business expansions in 2019

As the year comes to a close, Clark County saw promises of hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in investment for 2019.

Many of those promises were the result of several expansion projects made by companies that have set up operations in the area in recent years. Those companies include Topre America Corp., Silfex and Code Blue and in total, they expect to create over 600 new jobs in the area over the next two to four years, the News-Sun reported.

It was also announced over the fall that Speedway, based in Enon, would likely become its own separate, publicly traded company. The announcement was made by its parent company Marathon Petroleum. The move, when completed, is expected to make Speedway the largest U.S.-operated chain of convenience stores.

BUSINESS: Employment relatively unchanged in Clark, up in Champaign County

The news comes as Speedway expands its corporate headquarters in Enon as part of a $48 million project that started last year and is slated to be completed in 2020. As part of the expansion, the company expects to add 300 jobs to its corporate headquarters. It is unclear if that number will change as Speedway looks to spinoff from Marathon.

Kettering Health Network expanded its property holdings in the area this year, after buying two buildings in less than six months. The first, was the site of its Springfield Health Center at 2100 Emmanuel Way and the second was a former Kroger location on North Limestone Street.

However, it is unclear what will become of Kettering Health’s latest holding in the area since no official plans have been announced for the former Kroger store.

The year also saw changes made at Navistar’s Springfield plant, as the company looks to reduce the number of medium-duty trucks assembled on its main line. That move is mostly due to production surpassing sales nationally in the truck market. Navistar’s initial reduction in production at its Springfield plant in September resulted in over 100 workers being laid off and additional lay offs were announced towards the end of November as well as in December.

As we enter into a new year, here is a more in-depth look at some of the top local business stories of 2019.

1. Topre invest an additional $54 million at its Springfield stamping and assembly facility

Topre America announced a third expansion at its facility in the area. As a result, the company is expected to create 71 new jobs in Springfield.

The auto parts maker will be adding 78,000 square feet to its existing stamping and assembly facility in the Champion City Business Park on Reaper Ave.

Topre has already filled out most of the business park and has invested a total of $182 million, including the latest expansion, and has pledged to create a total of 360 jobs since announcing three years ago that it was interested in opening a facility in Springfield.

The latest expansion, announced in September, is the result of a new contract awarded to the company by Honda. That decision prompted the need for more space as well as workers at Topre’s Springfield location.

“As hoped, our plans to expand to Springfield have resulted in increased production requests from our customers – Honda, Toyota and Nissan,” Senior Vice President of Topre America Brad Pepper said in September.

Topre made its first move in Springfield in December 2016, when the Japanese auto parts firm announced plans to invest $10 million in a new 20,000-square-foot stamping facility. That investment was soon increased to $55 million and company officials said its Springfield site would be 177,000 square feet and create 85 jobs.

Last year, the company announced it would invest an additional $73 million into the property as well as add another 138,000 square feet to the facility and create 204 more jobs.

READ MORE: Topre investing $54 million to expand Springfield plant, create more jobs

2. Silfex operating new plant in Springfield, looking to hire more

Silfex, a manufacturing facility based in Eaton and a division of Lam Research Corporation, has invested more than $223 million to its Springfield facility and has brought on more than 100 employees.

It is part of a pledge made by the company to create around 400 jobs in the area over a period of two to four years. The manufacturer first announced that it would be expanding its operations in 2017 and later purchased a 350,000-square-foot warehouse located on Titus Road in Springfield, near the PrimeOhio Industrial Park, last year.

Silfex acquired its Springfield site for $11 million, according to records with the Clark County Auditor’s Office. The company builds silicon components for several industries, including everything from computer processors to cell phones to cars. The firm also grows silicon crystals at its existing plant in Eaton and will perform similar functions in Springfield.

Its pledge to create more jobs in the area in coming years is also part of an incentive package with the Ohio Tax Credit Authority. The company is also required to maintain operations at the Springfield location for at least 10 years and maintain an annual average payroll of $20.7 million, the News-Sun reported.

With the addition of the new facility, Silfex’s total footprint in Ohio is more than 500,000 square feet between Springfield and Eaton.

In addition to the employees already working at the new facility, Kit Armstrong, a general manager of Silfex, said the company is looking to hire, “all kinds of talent,” including engineers, machinists, technicians and support staff.

READ MORE: New Silfex plant operating in Springfield; more hiring planned

3. Code Blue adds jobs in Springfield

Code Blue, a water mitigation firm that manages claims nationwide, announced in April they were planning to hire 169 new positions at the company’s downtown Springfield office.

At the time of that announcement, Code Blue founder Paul Gross said the company wanted to fill the positions as quickly as possible, and would provide in-house training for all positions.

READ MORE: Code Blue extends ‘dozens’ of offers as company adds jobs in Springfield

The job additions are result of a transformation the company has undergone since Gross and CEO Dan Wilson purchased the business in February of last year, Gross said previously.

Gross and Wilson acquired the majority share in parent company Insurance Claims Management, Inc. as part of an investor group that acquired all the equity and assets of the company in a cash deal last year.

READ MORE: Springfield City Commission to hear plan for Code Blue incentives

Since then, the company has made, “significant management changes,” by introducing new products that resonate with the marketplace and promoting from within in order to bring in outside talent, Gross said.

With the addition of the new jobs, Code Blue will have about 350 employees, making it one of the largest employers in Springfield’s downtown district, Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said previously.

READ MORE: Code Blue in Springfield hiring for more than 150 jobs: What we know so far

4. Speedway to break off from Marathon

Clark County is slated to become home to the largest U.S. operated chain of retail convenience stores as Speedway becomes its own publicly traded company.

Marathon Petroleum announced in October that it would be spinning off its subsidiary, Speedway and representatives of both companies said there were no plans to move the Speedway headquarters out of Enon.

Speedway is one of the largest employers in the region and has approximately 1,500 employees locally and 40,000 employees nationally. Speedway also started expanding its headquarters last year.

That expansion includes a $48 million investment and a new 140,000 square-foot building to its campus off of Enon Road. That project is slated to be completed by the summer of 2020 and the company has pledged to add as many as 300 jobs in Enon over the next four-years.

The news that Speedway would be spinning off comes at a time of growth for the convenience store chain, stemming from a $2.8 billion deal to take over the Hess retail chain on the East Coast in 2015 and a $23.3 billion deal to acquire all outstanding shares of Andeavor, a refining company based in Texas.

The spinoff was proposed by Elliott Management Corp., a hedge fund, that pushed for Marathon to split its Findlay-based oil company into three separate entities.

READ MORE: Locally-based Speedway to become separate, publicly traded company

5. Navistar sees lay offs at Springfield plant, considers reducing truck production

Navistar is considering reducing the number of trucks assembled on the main line of its Springfield plant to 70, something local union officials say is a violation of their contract with the company.

Chris Blizard, the president of UAW Local 402, said current contract language states a minimum of 90 trucks a day are to be built on the plant’s main line. The company currently builds 97 trucks per day on that line.

He said union officials are currently in talks with the company in order to resolve that issue. However, if the company goes forward with their decision to reduce production, it could lead to more lay offs at the plant.

Navistar also announced in the meantime that it would be producing 95 trucks on that line come January. The News-Sun reported earlier this year that the number of medium and heavy-duty trucks that are being produced has surpassed sales nationally. Some companies are beginning to adjust their production rates as a result.

Earlier this month, 62 members of UAW Local 402 were laid off as the company continued to reduce manpower following several changes made at the plant. In November, 30 union members were laid off after the elimination of a second shift in several non-production departments.

A decision made by the company to lower line-speed production rates at the plant earlier this year lead to 126 workers being laid off in September. During that same month, a nationwide strike at General Motors caused a parts shortage for Navistar’s Springfield operation. That plant also builds trucks and cutaway vans for GM.

As a result, Navistar temporarily shut down both assembly lines at the Springfield plant, a move that left approximately 1,400 workers temporarily out of work.

The company announced this month that it would temporarily stop production on the plant’s line two for several weeks beginning Jan. 2. That line makes cutaway vans for GM. Company officials said that decision is due to a retooling at GM’s plant in Wentzville, Mo., that makes cabs for the GM vans assembled in Springfield.

Blizard said Navistar plans on retaining 30 to 40 senior employees on line two to work on the main line during the temporarily shutdown. However, between 180 and 200 people will be temporarily out of work until production resumes on line two, he said.

READ MORE: Navistar lay offs more at Springfield plant, weighs cutting production

6. Kettering Health expands presence in Clark County

Kettering Health Network expanded its holdings in the area after purchasing buildings in Springfield, including a former Kroger store at 2300 N. Limestone St.

The Kroger closed earlier this year and was transferred to Kettering Health on Dec. 4 after being purchased for $2.2 million by the Ohio limited-liability company AMVO in September, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office.

READ MORE: Kettering Health obtains former Springfield Kroger purchased for $2.2M

However, it is unclear what will become of Kettering Health’s latest holding in the area since no official plans have been announced for the former Kroger store.

It is the second major purchase the health network has made in the Springfield area this year. Kettering Health purchased the site of its Springfield Health Center at 2100 Emmanuel Way in August.

That property was previously owned by Springfield Professional Suites LTD and Kettering Health purchased it for $2.5 million, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office, after leasing the space for its Springfield clinic for more than a year.

READ MORE: Kettering Health makes $2.5M real estate purchase in Springfield

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