Speedway decision seen as win for region

New jobs will draw candidates from Clark County, elsewhere

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun will continue to provide unmatched coverage of local companies, including Speedway. The Enon-based company recently acquired Hess Retail Holdings, and this week announced plans to create 350 jobs in Springfield. The paper will continue to explain how the deal and new jobs will affect local residents.

By the numbers:

350 — New jobs expected to be created by Speedway

23 — States with operations after the acquisition

800 — Current employees at Speedway’s Enon headquarters

34,000 — Total employees after the acquisition

Speedway’s announcement Monday that it will create 350 jobs in the next three years in Clark County is seen as a boost not only for the county economy but also for the entire region, area economic development officials said Tuesday.

Local officials hope Clark County will provide the bulk of the new employees. But filling all the jobs will mean drawing trained workers from across the Miami Valley. It could also attract new residents to the region and help promote the growth of NextEdge Applied Research Technology Park on East National Road in Springfield, where some of the new Speedway jobs will be located.

Speedway announced Monday it will spend about $9.1 million to renovate its company headquarters in Enon and purchase a three-story building at 250 Verona Drive at NextEdge. Current employees will be relocated to the NextEdge building during the renovations.

“It’s going to be a regional approach,” said Amy Donahoe, director of hiring and employer services for the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. “We’re not going find everybody in Clark County, but obviously we want to make sure it is the hub of where we look.

“This is a win for our entire region, and with where they’re located right off of the highway, they’re going to be able to attract from a diverse area.”

The jobs being created will include a variety of office positions, including accounting, training, information technology and merchandising, among other jobs. The jobs will be added over a period of three years as Speedway begins rebranding Hess retail stores to the Speedway identity. However, hiring will not begin until the acquisition is finalized.

In May, Speedway acquired Hess Retail Holdings for $2.8 billion, expanding its footprint along the East Coast. Hess was one of the largest convenience store brands in the U.S., with about 1,300 retail locations. It will expand Speedway’s footprint from nine to 23 states. Monday’s agreement also retains about 800 current jobs at Speedway’s headquarters in Enon.

It’s not yet clear whether Hess employees will be relocated to Springfield to fill some of the positions, said Stefanie Griffith, a spokeswoman for Speedway.

“We are in the process of assessing all our needs and looking at various opportunities for Hess employees,” Griffith said.

Speedway has already begun to receive some applications from prospective employees after the Hess acquisition was announced, Donahoe said. The county has seen a surge in demand for skilled workers in areas like manufacturing, she said. But the corporate office jobs this deal will create will provide more balance to the variety of jobs available in the county.

“We’ll definitely work with the contiguous counties to make sure we advertise openings and get the word out so they can get the very best candidate,” Donahoe said.

Clark County leaders hope the new jobs might also lure new residents to move here, an issue local officials have been attempting to address.

“If we can get those people engaged, maybe they’ll relocate into our region and Clark County as well,” Donahoe said. “Ultimately we want the professionals to live in our community.”

The company is expected to serve as an anchor at NextEdge that could encourage other companies to take a closer look at the site, said Tom Franzen, economic development coordinator for Springfield.

The technology park has had a handful of tenants over the years and was developed to attract firms specializing in high tech research, defense and data. But the recession, along with sequestration, significantly slowed growth in those industries, Franzen said.

Economic development officials here knew it would take time to develop the park, but had hoped to have one or two more tenants by now, Franzen said. Speedway’s presence could speed up that process, he said.

Speedway officials say they do not know how the company will use the new office space long-term, Speedway spokeswoman Griffith said.

“Over the next few years, we will continue to evaluate our need for office space and will make a decision at that time that will fit our needs,” she said.

There are no guarantees Speedway will maintain a presence in Springfield once its initial commitment is up, Franzen said.

However, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday approved a 60 percent, 10-year tax credit to Speedway in return for creating $14 million in new, annual payroll. State officials said the company must keep operations at the Springfield site for 13 years to qualify for the tax credit.

But forecasting the long-term future is difficult both for the company and city, he said.

“It’s our hope that with them acquiring the facility and populating it with their employees and it becoming a productive part of their environment that Speedway will continue to grow and stay at their location,” Franzen said.

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