Clark County officials optimistic about 7-Eleven buying Speedway

The new addition to Speedway's Corporate Headquarters. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
The new addition to Speedway's Corporate Headquarters. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Clark County officials remain hopeful as Enon-based Speedway is expected to be sold, noting that the convenience store chain has seen sizable growth in recent years.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. announced on Sunday that its Speedway unit would be acquired by the parent company of 7-Eleven for $21 billion in an all-cash transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021.

Clark County Commissioner Melanie Flax Wilt said that she was aware that Speedway was for sale but said that she found out about the planned acquisition Sunday evening.

Marathon announced in October that it would be spinning off Speedway. The original idea was that it would be an independent and publicly traded company. However, Marathon had engaged in talks of selling the company earlier this year.

“Speedway has been good to our community and we’re optimistic that will continue to be the case under new ownership,” Wilt said on Monday.

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Her fellow commissioner Rick Lohnes said the hope is for Speedway’s headquarters to remain in Enon and that operations will mostly stay the same as it is a major employer in the area.

Lohnes said there is always a fear that positions will be transferred out of the area as a result of an acquisition or leadership change.

“We are anxious and hopeful at the same time. This could be good news for us or it could be bad,” he added.

However, Mike McDorman, president and CEO of the Chamber of Greater Springfield, said that both Marathon and Speedway had indicated to his organization in the past that they would try to keep their assets in Enon as part of any acquisition.

“The chamber, along with its community partners, look forward to welcoming 7-Eleven and working with them as they seek to move the company forward following the completed acquisition,” McDorman added.

He noted that it is unlikely that Speedway’s operations will be altered in the near future as it will be a long transition.

Speedway is one of the largest employers in the region and as of late last year had over 2,000 employees in the area. The company has seen sizable growth as a result of two acquisitions made by Marathon in recent years.

As a result, Marathon announced in 2018 that it planned to expand and update Speedway’s headquarters at a cost of about $48 million. The project was to feature a new 140,000-square-foot structure connecting two existing buildings on the headquarters campus.

The parent company as well as representatives of Speedway also promised to add as many as 300 more employees to the area over a period of four years as a direct result of the expansion project.

“The construction phase of the project has completed and the building is operating at reduced occupancy due to social distancing measures taken in response to COVID-19,” said Christian Holfinger, a spokesperson for Speedway, in an email to the News-Sun on Monday.

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Clark County commissioners previously approved a 100-percent, 15-year tax abatement for the project.

Ethan Harris, the director of development for Clark County, said it is up to commissioners to continue to approve the abatement after each year.

Harris added that it’s also up to the County Enterprise Zone Board to make that recommendation and historically it has been based on whether that property is being used to add or keep jobs in the area.

Speedway also received three grants related to the project from the state, including a $1.25 million economic development grant for equipment, a $300,000 workforce development grant that deals with job training and $700,000 in funding for public roadwork improvements related to the expansion.

State Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, said that those grants follow an agreement by the convenience store chain that included adding a net 300 new jobs and retaining a net 1,125 jobs in the area. He said they have three to five years to meet that requirement.

As of Monday afternoon, 7-Eleven did not respond to a request to comment regarding what the intended acquisition means for Speedway’s Enon headquarters and workforce.

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