The past year was a significant year for two of Clark County’s largest employers, as both Speedway and Mercy Health announced moves to grow through mergers and acquisitions.
Those deals were important and will have lasting implications on the region’s workforce. But 2018 also saw several important changes including plans to add new housing in Springfield for the first time in decades and big decisions from Kroger, including plans to upgrade existing stores while scrapping a planned location in Springfield. Here are some of the biggest business stories from 2018 and why they’re important.
• Mercy merges with Bon Secours
Mercy Health, Clark County’s largest employer, announced in March that it would merge with Bon Secours, a major health case system based on the East Coast. Combined, the new entity would create a health system with $8 billion in revenue, which experts said is part of a growing trend of increasing consolidation in the industry.
The companies finalized that merger this fall, creating a new combined entity that officials said is one of the 20 largest health systems in the U.S. and the fifth largest Catholic health system. The new company employs 57,000 associates and more than 2,100 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians.
Some local politicians raised concerns about the deal’s impact in Clark County, however, pointing out that the merger may mean local officials have less access to the health care provider’s to leaders to discuss issues that impact local patients. Experts said the merger is also part of a larger trend in which health systems look to grow as a way to become more efficient and competitive in the health care market.
• Speedway acquires rival firm
Speedway announced this Spring that the company, which was already one of the largest convenience store chains in the U.S., would acquire Andeavor, a rival refining firm headquartered in Texas.
The $23.3 billion acquisition was big news, but particularly because only a few years ago Speedway had also acquired Hess, a convenience store chain with stores spread across the East Coast. The Andeavor deal made Speedway into a national brand when the deal was officially finalized this fall.
Since 2014, Speedway’s presence shot up from 1,500 stores to about 3,900 locations spread across the U.S.
The deal is also expected to provide a boost in Clark County, where Speedway has long operated its corporate headquarters in Enon. The News-Sun broke news this fall that Speedway is now moving ahead with a $48 million expansion at its headquarters as part of the expansion, a move that is expected to add as many as 300 new administrative and office support jobs.
• Kroger cancels plans for Springfield store, renovates existing locations
Local officials and many residents had anticipated a significant new development in Springfield’s southern corridor this year, but many residents were angered when Kroger scrapped plans for a new $20 million Marketplace store south of Interstate 70.
Local officials had pushed hard for the project, but Kroger said it nixed plans for the new store and instead used that money to invest in new technology and renovate existing properties.In addition, Kroger announced plans in August to close its location at 2300 N. Limestone St., one of its five Springfield stores.
Kroger is a significant employer in Clark County with close to 600 employees at its locations in the county. Despite those moves, not all news was bad for area customers. The chain also announced plans to invest $10 to renovate locations at 2728 E. Main St. and 2989 Derr Road.
• New Housing in Springfield
Local officials have said a lack of new, affordable housing has been one reason why it’s been a challenge to attract new businesses and workers to Clark County. Economic development officials took steps to address that issue this year though, announcing a plan to work with developer DDC Management to build as many as 226 new homes on 37 acres south of the Tuttle Road Walmart.
The deal was controversial, with some local school and township officials raising concerns that the financing plan for the project would divert anticipated property tax revenue from local schools and a township to cover infrastructure costs for the project.
However, city officials pointed out the city hasn’t seen a new, major housing development since the 1990s and said the finance structure was needed in order to attract investors willing to take a bet that the development will be successful.
Springfield’s city commission also voted earlier this month on a proposal to allow the city to move forward with a redevelopment agreement for 34 townhomes downtown. The city is now allowed to enter into an agreement with Dayton-based Charles V. Simms Development Corp. to build a residential development called Center Street Homes on a site between West Main and West Columbia streets.
Changes to a controversial wind farm
MORE BUSINESS NEWS: Champaign County wind farm now wants 50 turbines, half of initial plan
Residents in Champaign County have debated a controversial wind farm proposal for more than a decade. But the News-Sun reported early this year that the project’s developers were selling the project to innogy, a German energy company. That deal was finalized in summer 2018. In addition, documents filed with the state showed that the developers are now seeking to reduce the number of turbines proposed in the wind farm from 100 to a maximum of 50.
The project’s developers recently told the News-Sun there has been little action taken on the project in recent months. The developers had reached a deal with Union Neighbors United, a group of residents that had long opposed the wind farm, that would have allowed the project to move forward. But a new group of residents has since continued their opposition to the project.