- Matt Sanctis Staff Writer
Two Springfield business parks are among the first in Ohio to be included in a new state program that local leaders said could drive Clark County to the top of the list for potential industrial developers.
The Prime Ohio II and Nextedge business parks have been approved as part of the new Site Ohio program, said Horton Hobbs, vice president for economic development at the Chamber of Greater Springfield.
That process — developed by the state’s economic development agency JobsOhio — designates sites that have infrastructure and utilities in place, spokesman Matt Englehart said.
“When companies are ready to go, they want to make sure they can get up and running quickly, that it’s as cost efficient and effective for them as possible and that there’s as little risk associated with their decision as possible,” said Horton Hobbs, vice president for economic development at the Chamber of Greater Springfield. “The site certification allows us to demonstrate to a company that we’re ready to go, right now, not in six months or a year.”
The four sites currently approved under the process include Prime Ohio II and Nextedge, as well as the Airport West business park in Mansfield and the Leesburg Industrial Park in Highland County, according to information from the Ohio Development Services Agency.
Information from JobsOhio shows unlike many other certification programs, SiteOhio was designed to evaluate all of a specific site’s attributes and determine how well they work together to provide companies the best location to match a firm’s requirements. It was developed to improve Ohio’s portfolio of available industrial, manufacturing and commercial locations for investment.
“When a site is verified with the SiteOhio seal, it is guaranteed to be ready for development on day one, allowing businesses to hit the ground running and get to market faster,” Englehart said.
The designation could also push the two Clark County sites to the top of the list when developers are looking at potential sites in Ohio, Hobbs said.
Prime Ohio II is a roughly $8.5 million, 184-acre industrial park along I-70 that is expected to provide space for light manufacturing, logistics and distribution firms. Love’s Truck Stop is the site’s first tenant and opened earlier this year.
The Nextedge Applied Research and Technology Park is a roughly 200-acre site near Ohio 40 and Titus Road that houses offices for the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center as well as corporate offices for Speedway.
“When a project is put out there and we respond with one of our construction-ready sites, that end-user knows we’re ready to go now, and that all the big issues that are typical have already been screened and overcome,” Hobbs said. “It really eliminates speed and risk from the equation for the companies.”
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Sites that don’t meet all the program’s requirements are still considered viable locations for companies, but the SiteOhio designation shows the approved sites meet a higher standard.
The certification process also allowed local officials to show coordination between economic development agencies, city and county staff and local utility providers, among others, Hobbs said.
“It’s basically a safe, mock run at making a pitch to a company and we passed that with flying colors,” Hobbs said.
The designation has already resulted in more interest from developers for both business parks, Hobbs said. Not all of those calls will necessarily result in new projects but the key is that it provides more attention to the region.
“Eighty-percent of this is just getting the opportunity and we’re starting to get those,” Hobbs said. “It will pay dividends, no doubt.”