County economic status improving

By Scott Halasz shalasz@civitasmedia.com

April 26, 2014

BEAVERCREEK — Greene County is moving in the right direction.

The was the message from Acting Development Director Pete Williams as he addressed the crowd at the 25th Greene County Annual Report to the Community.

From business activity to departmental goals and initiatives to construction, everything is on a positive up-slope. The value of total reported residential and commercial construction (including improvements to existing buildings) was just under $287 million. Compared to 2012 figures, commercial construction was up overall and specifically in Bath Township, Fairborn, Spring Valley Township and Yellow Springs and at Wright State, which reported nearly $24 million in new work.

Residential construction was up throughout the county including Caesarcreek Township, Miami Town, Jamestown and Xenia.

Sales tax revenue brought in a seven-year high of $22.864 million and continues to skyrocket. General property tax and hotel tax ended the last reporting year at 99 percent of the previous year.

The county is proud of the economic growth but is already working to improve upon them.

“These numbers show strength and stability,” Williams said. “But to remain strong we have undertaken a number of initiatives in the past 12 months to do just that. We really have one focus. The goal of this department is to make Greene County the best place in the state to do business.”

• In 2013 the county launched a business referral program. It began as a way to make sure permits were processed quickly so a new business could be up and running faster and morphed into complete outreach program. In addition to expedited review, businesses receive an introduction to their local chamber of commerce, an invitation to meet with the small business development center at Wright State and information on available programs through JobsOhio and the state development services agency.

• Through the First Steps Program, the Fairborn Development Corporation offers expedited review of zoning permits along with the opportunity to meet with professional developers to review options, obtain an expert opinion on the cost of code compliance and learn ways to position their business for long-term success.

• The county Community Improvement Corporation has a new website that serves as a one-stop shop for people in the county looking for anything from open positions to education opportunities and training opportunities.

“In short, in 2013 we built the resource and acquired the tools to get better and what we do, which is helping you succeed,” Williams said. “When I tell you that our goal is to make this county the very best place to in Ohio to do business, this is not a simple slogan. It’s a plan of action.”

Other 2013 highlights include:

• Wright-Patt Credit Union, JJR Solutions and Human Capital Solutions in Beavercreek, The Design Knowledge Company and Brilligent Solutions in Fairborn and Montgomery Insurance and Investments of Xenia and Jamestown were among 25 companies in the region selected by Quantum Research Firm as Best Workplaces.

• The new Miami Valley Hospital emergency department opened in Jamestown and an $8.1 million expansion of the Soin Medical Center ER was announced, while Kettering Medical Network unveiled new cancer treatment centers at both the Greene and Soin medical centers.

• Average employment and total wages in Greene County both increased in 2012, the most recent reporting year.

• The Greene County Department of Development was awarded $419,500 in community housing improvement program funds to aid in the completion of six owner-occupied rehabilitation projects and 13 home repair projects across the county.

• The Convention and Visitors Bureau generated more than 30,000 hotel room nights thanks in part to 50 military reunions, 10 special sporting events, five auto car show conventions and 10 other events.

Moving forward, Williams said the county has seen growth, diversification and expansion in its strongest sectors, agricultural and aerospace.

“That’s not good news, that’s great news,” he said.

Williams stressed that Greene County places a high priority on agricultural educational opportunities, citing the career center’s oft-recognized Agricultural Research Center, which completed its first full year of service in 2013.

In Yellow Springs, Enviroflight has introduced a renewable, sustainable feedstock production method that is abuzz all around the world, Williams said.

In Aerospace the news is just as encouraging. Due to global growth in the commercial aviation industry, Southwest Ohio and Greene County are set to capitalize on aviation manufacturing. Boeing and AirBus already spend $13 billion annually in Ohio on manufactured aviation parts and that number projects to surpass $20 billion annually by the end of the decade.

“The legacy of aviation research and development that started on the Huffman Prairie 100 years ago now evolves into a manufacturing future that will propel our economy for decades to come,” Williams said.