Top 10 economic development goals for 2010

2010 looks to be an exciting year for Springfield and Clark County in terms of economic development.  Despite the recession and the high unemployment nationally and regionally, Springfield faired better than most communities in 2009, and there are a lot of positive signs of good things to come.  Here are the top 10 things on the economic development agenda for next year (in no particular order):

1.            New hospital constructed

Rendering of new hospital

Rendering of new hospital

The new $240 million Springfield Regional Medical Center facility will be constructed and almost ready to open.  It will be a significant boon to downtown Springfield and the urban core, as over 2000 employees will suddenly be active in the downtown space.  In addition to the increased quality of healthcare, which is a good community selling point, the project should drive additional retail and residential development.

2.            Center City Park – Phase I constructed

This $2 million + green park project in the middle of downtown Springfield will, along with the hospital, create opportunities for additional commercial and office development in the downtown, further spurring on development.

3.            Code Blue deal finalized and operation started

The story of the possibility of this Wisconsin-based insurance company establishing a second US command and control center in downtown Springfield broke late in 2009, a project that has been in the works for over two years.  If everything is finalized, it means over 300 high-paying jobs in downtown, with the promise of more.  We have to do everything possible to make sure that this deal happens and moves forward.  After that, the real work begins (and preparation already underway) with training, recruitment, and a host of other items.

4.            PrimeOhio II Industrial Park grants finalized and construction started

2009 was a very productive year toward the realization of PrimeOhio II, the 200+ acre industrial park along I-70, that will serve our community for the next several years.  Springfield has been without an interstate industrial park with available land for over 8 years.  Last year, the Community  Improvement Corporation secured $1.5 million in state and federal funding toward infrastructure and is looking to add over $700,000 to the total next year.  Construction is slated to begin this year on water, sewer, and storm sewers, with roadwork expected, if all additional funding is secured, also to begin.  We are also working with Springfield Township on a development agreement that we believe will come to a successful conclusion in early 2010.

5.            HITS successful in its 3rd year

HITS is our team-based, successful, award-winning business outreach program, designed to encourage businesses to stay  and grow in Clark County by helping them access the over 200 public and non-profit programs that are out there.  Over the last two years over 2100 companies were reached out to one-on-one, over 1500 had discussions with our team on their growth plans, and we have been able to help over 600 of them save over $2 million.  The plan for 2010 is to continue the course, strengthen and deepen our relationship with these companies and do an increasingly better job providing them information and assistance that delivers real bottom-line value.

6.            New jobs and investment / top ten nationally

Our traditional goal is to help create the environment where over $80 million in new investment is announced and 800 new jobs are created.  We will continue to strive for this, even in this recession.  In the last three years we have been particularly successful, garnering over 3100 new jobs and $735 million.  We anticipate placing well in the 2009 Site Selection competition, which ranks communities in the US based on the number of private investment projects they have.  In 2008, we placed second nationally for metro areas between 50,000 and 200,000 in population.  Our goal for 2010 is to continue to place in the top ten nationally for such projects.

7.            Online economic development content continued to explode

For the first time in 2009, we started creating and posting massive (for us) amounts of quality content online about projects, companies, resources, events, properties, research, and quality of life in Springfield and Clark County.  Last year, we uploaded over 20 PowerPoint presentations, 100 videos, 175 blog posts, and 1000 pictures — and collectively, this content received over 18,000 views.  We aspire to continue this trend next year, posting lots of great online content and making it even easier for companies to decide to locate here and existing companies to grow here.

8.            Social media continued to explode

Social media is, of course, all the rage, and we don’t see that trend stopping in 2010.  We will continue to use the Facebook fan page, LinkedIn group, and Twitter accounts to spread the word about what’s going on here, to distribute the online content we upload and direct traffic to it, as well as post other content.  Twitter was a monster for us this year, with over 2500 tweets (messages) we sent out and over 3200 followers.  On these platforms, we interacted with company CEOs, local and regional businesses, economic development professionals from around the country and promoted a lot of great stuff.   We will also continue to develop and implement “old-school” social media, using regular email and email newsletters to help companies know what is going on.  One of the challenges for 2010 will be managing it.

9.            Industrial development projects underway

We expect to see and expect to be involved in a lot of industrial land development projects.  After finishing the PrimeOhio drainage project (a problem that has plagued the tenants for years) at the end of 2009, we will work to finish the last outstanding issue out there – the lack of street lights.  Development on the CIC’s Columbus Ave. property is expected in 2010, as some projects are expected to move forward there.  Clean-up is also expected to begin on the 60-acre former Navistar site on Lagonda Ave., and the CIC will be working with the City of Springfield to help redevelop it into an industrial park.

10.          Hypertargeted marketing

Economic development marketing for Springfield and Clark County has always been targeted.  We have frequently gone after industries in which we are traditionally strong (food, transportation) and for which we have the resources (water, logistics).  In 2010, in conjunction with the City of Springfield, we will focus even more narrowly on a few market segments where we are particularly competitive, such as insurance and financial services.  The prominence of Assurant and prospective Code Blue announcement combined with our fantastic workforce logistics (have better worker access than Columbus, for example) and educational logistics (18 institutions nearby) make us a great place to set up a professional services customer service center.  We will aggressively go after companies in this segment, spending resources to market to them directly and within the industry.

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