The millions of dollars in new investment in the area and hundreds of new jobs that will crop up as result is seen by local officials as a byproduct of years of hard work to generate more economic development and attract outside interest.
Existing infrastructure and access to a large regional workforce are some of the factors that attracted companies such as Gabriel Brothers and Surati to the area. Other benefits includes proximity to markets and other operations. For companies like Esterline and Sons, which has been in the community for decades, the need for new space and company growth led to the new facility.
Millions of dollars have also been invested over the decade in the creation of business parks and other infrastructure needed to attract companies and encourage economic growth.
Gabriel Brothers is building a distribution center, it’s largest, at the Prime Ohio II Industrial Park in Springfield, which was completed in 2014 in order to aid local development efforts in the area. Esterline and Sons is constructing its new facility at the Airpark Ohio business park near the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.
Previous investment from companies such as Silfex and Topre, and the creation of new jobs in recent years has also played a part in attracting new companies to the area, said Horton Hobbs, the vice president of economic development for the Greater Springfield Partnership.
“Certainly, success breeds success,” he said. “When you start to see external investment, meaning companies that aren’t here, but they are staring to invest here, that sends a signal to other companies and developers in the region, across the state and in the nation about the viability of our economy, the viability of our community.”
Announcements were made last year by Gabriel Brothers, Surati and Esterline that they were going to construct new facilities in Springfield. Local economic leaders called 2021 an unprecedented year due the number of slated projects and the total investment they represented as well as the scale of the planned distribution center for Gabriel Brothers that aims to create hundreds of new jobs.
All are looking to be completed by the end of this year, likely in the fall, Hobbs said.
Companies such as the West Virginia- based Gabriel Brothers, also known as Gabe’s, chose Springfield as the site of the largest investment in the companies history.
The company’s new 870,000-square-foot distribution center is part of a $77.5 million investment that will create 833 full-time equivalent jobs and support existing operations as well as pave the way for more growth, according to representatives of retail chain that sells apparel, home goods and footwear at discount prices.
The actual number of jobs created could be a mix that includes more than 700 full-time jobs and over 300 part-time jobs, Springfield officials have said. But, the new facility will allow for the company to expand its presence and better service stores in Ohio and in surrounding states.
Gabe’s slated distribution center represents the largest investment in Springfield that was announced last year.
“Right now if we did not open this (distribution center) we wouldn’t be able to open any more stores after 2022. This gives us a runway to the next 120 stores. This is the evolution of our company and we are thrilled to be here,” said Gabe’s President and CEO Jason Mazzola.
Gabe’s has 20 retail stores in Ohio, a presence which played a part in the chain selecting Springfield as the location of its new distribution center.
The company also has locations in West Virginia, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The Springfield distribution center will be the company’s first in Ohio, and is larger than its five other distribution centers combined, Mazzola said.
Construction of the facility that will be located on 1801 Prime Parkway started in the fall of 2021 and is on track to become fully operational by the fall of 2022.
The project also has been awarded state and local economic incentives. The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 1.488%, 10-year job creation tax credit last month for the Gabe’s project.
The city of Springfield approved two agreements with Gabe’s, including a 100% tax abatement for 15 years regarding the property. The same agreement was approved by the Clark-Shawnee Local Board of Education in August.
Springfield city commissioners also improved an Employment Incentive Agreement with Gabe’s that will provide an annual 30% return to the company depending on income tax generated by new jobs created at the facility each year over a five-year period.
Companies such as Surati chose to invest in Springfield while looking to open a manufacturing and distribution Center in the U.S. The snack food company had seen an increase in sales in the country and was running out of space in Toronto.
Surati was also looking to grow tis presence in the Midwest since the company does not have a distribution center there. Interests in the region prompted the company to decide that it would also open its first U.S. manufacturing facility there.
Springfield was ultimately chosen due to available manufacturing space in the area as well as a welcoming community, said Shalini Sheth, director of operations.
The business currently has a manufacturing facility in Canada and India as well as distribution centers in the U.S. and services world wide clientele.
Surati products can be found in most major Canadian grocery markets as well as specialty Indian stores in the U.S. The company makes snacks and eggless baked goods such as biscuits, biscotti, cookies, fruit cakes and East Indian trail mixes and other popular snacks of that cuisine.
The company, which makes exclusively vegetarian items, has also acquired a company that specializes in grainless-granola snacks.
“The Springfield community is the perfect strategic location for us to locate and expand our operations. It’s simply a community that wants our investment and has worked with our leadership to make it happen,” Sheth said in a news release last year.
Surati, a third-generation family owned business, has purchased property at 3100 Upper Valley Pike and plans to invest $16 million in the space, and its new facility aims to create 108 jobs.
About 80% of Surati’s manufacturing operation in Toronto will be moved to Springfield and along with that the company will be in need of managers, quality control, general labor and warehouse and distribution positions.
The majority of the new jobs that will be will be filled locally, Sheth said.
Surati announced that it would be coming to Springfield last summer and the company is looking to open its new facility hopefully by the fall of 2022. However, an official date has not been decided yet.
The company did not receive a local tax abatement but did get a job creation tax credit from the state.
Esterline and Sons
Esterline and Sons is planning to build a 57,000 square foot facility, constituting a $5 million investment, as the company has seen growth in past years and aims to triple its operating space.
The company employs 75 people and had outgrown its current space on Old Clifton Road that is about 18,000 square feet. Esterline and Sons has been in the community for decades, and specializes in light precision machining manufacturing and makes small parts for medical equipment, jet engines and commercial food equipment.
The new facility will allow for future growth, new equipment and accommodate future growth in employees as it will offer a mix of manufacturing and office space.
New jobs have not been tied to the project. But new growth in the future will lead to the demand for new employees, said John Maurer, president and CEO of the company.
“This site gives us the opportunity to grow as a company. There is also room to double the size of the building,” he said of the land that the new facility will be located on.
Construction for the new facility started in September and is slated to wrap up by late summer or early fall.
The company has also entered into an employment incentive agreement with the city of Springfield regarding the project. That could provide the company up to $80,000 over four years of the agreement, which would give 50% of what the company generates in income tax annually back to Esterline.
The Clark County company that is moving into the city and bringing jobs as a result is expected to generate more than $4 million in payroll and $40,000 in income tax annually.