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From Site Selection magazine, May 2013

The Anatomy of
a Shovel-Ready
Sites Program

How Ohio built a portfolio of sites to meet the needs of expanding companies.


hio is identifying job- and shovel-ready sites to minimize a company's time searching for the right property and accelerate its investment decisions. A part of this process includes completion of due diligence, such as environmental studies and assessments of utility capabilities. The end goal is to provide companies with a very streamlined process, regardless of where they enter into the system.

Ohio's six regions support the state's Job Ready Sites Program.


Ohio's job- and shovel-ready sites program has grown and evolved over the past seven years. In 2006, the Ohio Job Ready Sites Program (JRS) was implemented, providing $150 million of funding for the expansion of the state's portfolio of large-scale commercial and industrial developable sites. Properties were selected based on the sites' ability to provide comprehensive infrastructure and attract high-quality end users across diverse industries, from research and technology parks to manufacturing sites consisting of more than 1,000 acres. By building this portfolio of sites, Ohio is well positioned to respond and attract businesses from across diverse industry sectors.

The JRS program has experienced many successes and has great potential for future success. The state's very first JRS manufacturing certification recipient was EastPointe Business Park, developed by the Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority. A challenge throughout this region is the undulating topography. As the EastPointe Business Park continued to expand, remaining large tracts of land required significant earthwork to create a site suitable to a company operation. The JRS grant allowed the local community to make significant improvements to prepare the land and park to accommodate future business expansion. Today, Houston-based Halliburton owns 178 acres within the park, which includes part of the 100-acre EastPointe Job Ready Site. Halliburton is developing the eastern Ohio property as an operations hub to serve customers in the Utica shale play. The company is committed to creating 300 jobs over the next three years.

Another of the JRS program's early successes was the West Central Ohio Industrial Center in Wapakoneta, certified in 2010. Greg Myers, executive director for the Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council, gave high marks to the program and the process.

"Being a certified Ohio Job Ready Site has prepared us to respond quickly and thoroughly to project requests. The $7 million invested into analyzing and preparing this site will keep projects on schedule and maximize opportunities for success," said Myers. "We can guarantee a company less risk, faster completion and lower costs," he added.

"Being a certified Ohio Job Ready Site has prepared us to respond quickly and thoroughly to project requests.
— Greg Myers, executive director,
Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council

The more than 700-acre site is located at the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. 33, strategically positioned between Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland. An estimated 21 million vehicles pass through that intersection every year and more than 9 million people live within 300 miles of the site. Prior to the JRS grant, challenges at the site included lack of infrastructure and utilities. The JRS grant allowed the community to make significant improvements to the site including extending all utilities and constructing a CSX rail spur into the site. In addition to the JRS certification, CSX certified the site through their CSX Select Sites program. By proactively making these improvements, the site can accommodate an expedited company timeline at a reduced cost to all parties.

According to CSX, its site certification program highlights the most capable industrial sites along the transportation company's 23-state rail network. Of the nine states with CSX Select Sites, Ohio is the only state to have two sites with the CSX certification. Those sites include the West Central Ohio Industrial Center and Eastwood Commerce Center in Wood County.

The Graeter's Building in TechSolve Business Park in Cincinnati received a JRS grant.


"Both Eastwood Commerce Center in Wood County and West Central Ohio Industrial Center in Wapakoneta are CSX Select Sites, in part, because of the State of Ohio's commitment to invest in their best large industrial properties through the Ohio Jobs Ready Sites Program," said Clark Robertson, CSX assistant vice president for regional development. "It is no surprise that these two Ohio sites were the first sites certified in the CSX Select Site Program."

These two CSX Select Sites are tremendous assets to Ohio. Companies that are logistics-driven will benefit from choosing to locate at either of these properties.

Other successes in the JRS program include a site in Youngstown where Exterran, a global leader in oil and gas services out of Houston, is building a 65,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that includes an investment of $13 million and a commitment to create 103 jobs. The Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber received a JRS program grant to prepare 266 acres of industrial and manufacturing space for development. The work funded by the grant included roadwork and utility extensions throughout the park.

The value of having a ready site is also exemplified in the TechSolve Business Park in the Bond Hill neighborhood of Cincinnati. A JRS grant was provided for site preparation that led Graeter's Ice Cream to maintain its presence in Cincinnati and expand a new production facility on a portion of the site.

Ohio recognizes the need to continue to grow Ohio's site portfolio and have sites that meet a wide range of company needs. The JRS program successfully created large-scale site tracts for future businesses, and the goal is to continue to promote site development across the state. Ohio is currently finalizing the new SiteOhio Certification Program, which seeks to strengthen and maintain the state's inventory of job- and shovel-ready sites. This certification program will pick up where JRS left off and will continue to certify sites across the state that meet due diligence and utility standards. Communities and property owners are experiencing great benefits from participating in Ohio's site certification programs.

TechSolve Business Park enabled Graeter's to expand its ice cream plant.


"Our focus in pursuing the Job Ready Site program at the time was the financial assistance from the state to address infrastructure and site prep needs," according to Mike Jacoby of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority. "What we came to appreciate later was that we had been forced by the JRS process to have all of our homework and due diligence work done in advance with all the details readily available in multiple formats. Our preparedness and professionalism were not lost on prospects. We had a site that unquestionably could not be matched in the region. We could be selective about what use we would sell the property for and negotiate from a position of strength."

Another nationally recognized and respected site-ready certification program comes from Ady-Austin. The company's certification program is focused on the needs of businesses within the food processing industry as well as other industry sectors. There are a limited number of these sites nationwide to receive this independent accreditation. Rock Mill and Canal Pointe are Ohio's two most recent designees; both are located in Fairfield County in central Ohio. By meeting more than 200 critical evaluation factors that included ownership of property, transportation, utility, work force, community and environmental issues, the two sites are now pre-qualified and ready for immediate development. Food processing represents $9.5 billion of Ohio's gross state product and employs nearly 60,000 Ohioans.

Ohio continues to proactively develop innovative ways and partnerships to grow Ohio's inventory of sites. The state has positioned itself to be a competitive leader at the national and global level through its portfolio of sites ready for business development. The benefit of having job and shovel ready sites means access to accurate and verified information and quicker response times, which can assist communities and property owners in meeting accelerated company deadlines.

JobsOhio is a private, nonprofit corporation established to lead economic development and job creation for the State of Ohio.


Sheena Metzger is the Site Selection Manager for JobsOhio, the privatized economic development organization responsible for helping create jobs and attract new capital investment for the State of Ohio. Sheena joined JobsOhio in January 2012 and serves on the project management team. Focusing on site selection activities, Sheena is the first point of contact with out-of-state companies and consultants interested in gaining information on Ohio. Sheena also manages the statewide property database and lead notification system, Ohio One and Ohio InSite.

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