Now that 2017 has come to a close, we’re taking a look back at seven of the top business stories of the year and how they impacted employment in Hamilton, Middletown and other cities in the area. The following is a compilation, in no specific order, of what areas saw gains and which saw losses.
1. Companies continue to create jobs in Hamilton
Recent years of growth continued in 2017, with companies such as Barclaycard, StarTek, ThyssenKrupp Bilstein, ODW Logistics and Darana Hybrid creating more than 650 jobs, according to city officials.
Those five are expected to at least keep up that job creation pace in 2018 and help encourage growth by companies now in Hamilton, as well as attract other companies to the city, officials said.
2. Job creation projects announced for Monroe
In mid-September, Amazon confirmed plans to open a fourth Ohio fulfillment center that will create more than 1,000 jobs there via Ohio’s job creation tax credits. The 1-million-square-foot facility located on Gateway Boulevard near Interstate 75 will house employees who will pick, pack and ship larger customer orders.
Job creation tax credits also paved the way for Deceuninck North America’s $27 million expansion, which will allow it to create 85 full-time positions and retain 480 jobs, generating $4.5 million in new annual payroll and retaining $22.5 million in existing payroll.
3. AK Steel opens $36M research center
AK Steel’s new, $36 million Research and Innovation Center that opened in 2017 represented a “new attitude” for the city of Middletown, according to numerous local and state officials.
Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan said the 135,000-square-foot facility, which is located on 16 acres in Middletown’s Renaissance District just north of Atrium Medical Center, is “truly a showpiece on I-75.”
More than 100 researchers, scientists and engineers work in the facility.
4. Port Authority’s four projects projected to create at least 350 jobs
The four projects the Butler County Port Authority helped finalize in 2017 represent at least 350 new jobs coming to the county. The projects directly benefit the communities of Fairfield (NorthPoint), Fairfield Twp. (StoryPoint), Hamilton (The Marcum) and Trenton (Jeff Couch’s RV Nation).
The Port Authority estimates those four projects represent $86 million in capital investment, $66 million of which is financed through the Port’s conduit bonds.
5. Kettering Health Network launches construction of new facility
Work on the $30 million Kettering Health Network emergency/outpatient facility at the Interstate 75/Ohio 122 interchange started in 2017 less than one mile from Premier Health’s Atrium Medical Center.
The 67,000-square-foot medical center — Kettering Middletown — will offer a full-service emergency department, outpatient lab and imaging services and a medical office building for physician practices. It’s expected to create 110 new jobs, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists, imaging and lab technicians and support staff.
6. Hamilton, Middletown downtowns resurgent
Nearly two dozen new businesses have opened in downtown Middletown in the past year, including new restaurants such as Gracie’s, Blast Furnace Pizza and Central Market & Deli. At least 15 have opened in Hamilton, including Henry’s Candy, Pet Wants Hamilton and Fleurish Home.
That’s a marked contrast from previous years of store closures, relative stagnation and even the previous year, when businesses did open in both cities but not at such rapid pace.
7. Mall loses two high-profile clients
Milwaukee-based Bon-Ton Stores Inc. closed its Elder-Beerman store in Towne Mall Galleria in late January 2017 after not renewing the lease for the Warren County location. The closing affected approximately 65 employees at the location.
Sears shut down at Middletown’s Towne Mall Galleria last year, one of 72 planned additional store closings on top of the 180 stores already announced as closing. Company officials declined to disclose how many employees were affected by the closing.
City officials said the closure of Sears, which was built in 1976 and remodeled in 2003, was “not at all related to the mall,” which has seen the opening of Gabe’s, Burlington, Planet Fitness and the new outlot/pad development housing Buffalo Wild Wings, Aspen Dental, GNC and now Sports Clips.