Whitehall drew nearly 50 new companies last year as its renewed economic development strategy began producing big results.
In her state of the city address on Wednesday night, Mayor Kim Maggard talked about the renewed economic development strategy the city has pushed since she took office in 2012 – when the suburb shifted to a proactive stance to encourage business investment.
Since then, incentives have drawn $60 million in business investment. Forty-eight new companies have moved to Whitehall since 2010, including large employers like Wasserstrom Co. and Heartland Bank. The city now hosts 650 businesses, and $50 million in new payroll has been created since 2012.
Maggard said city staff members have visited 110 businesses. Of them, 75 percent were maintaining or growing their employment. These have added $4.5 million in income tax revenue to the city.
“These investments continue to have direct benefits for our citizens,” she said. “Much of the progress … could not happen without development in our businesses.”
Whitehall has turned to development as well, most notably Norton Crossing, a $50 million mixed-use development from Continental Real Estate. It will bring 360 residential units geared to young professionals and empty nesters as well as restaurant and retail use when it opens in 2019. Construction started in December.
And Norton Crossing has landed its first tenant — the Old Bag of Nails management group has signed a lease for 5,000 square feet of space, said Zach Woodruff, economic development director for Whitehall.
About $1.5 million in improvements are in the works for 80-acre Whitehall Community Park, as well as a new YMCA branch. An architect will be selected by April and construction on the 24,000-square-foot facility will begin in the fall. Another $600,000 will go into park improvements this year.
“With its proximity to Downtown and John Glenn (Columbus International Airport), Broad Street and Hamilton is one of the most important intersections (in Central Ohio),” Woodruff said. “The developer has worked with city staff over the past year to shape this project in a way that meets the city’s desires while still being economically feasible.”
Residential initiatives have promoted homeownership as well, including a home reinvestment program that funded $500,000 in home improvement work for city residents over four years, and lenders like Huntington Bank have helped 100 families become homeowners.
“2017 proved to be one of our best years ever,” Maggard said.
This story originally appeared in Columbus Business First.