South Afton Industrial Park earns SiteOhio authentication

BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 26, 2018) – Clermont County’s South Afton Industrial Park has been certified a SiteOhioIndustrial Site by JobsOhio, meaning it has JobsOhio’s imprint as a site “ready for immediate development on day one.”

South Afton is the first industrial park in Southwest Ohio to receive the SiteOhio authentication. It joins 12 other industrial sites throughout Ohio. South Afton comprises 242 acres at Half Acre Road and State Route 32 in Williamsburg Township. Its first project, a distribution facility for upscale furniture manufacturer Design Within Reach, is expected to open next spring and will employ 85 people.

To obtain the authentication, Clermont County had to complete a number of investigative studies as well as install infrastructure on the site. The county began working to accomplish this in 2016, the year it purchased the property. The infrastructure included 2,000 linear feet of road, water main and sanitary sewers, storm water infrastructure, a natural gas line, and conduit for electric, telecom and fiber. All told, the county has invested $2.5 million in infrastructure at South Afton.

The studies included an environmental Phase I report, a geotechnical report, a historic and cultural resources report, a wetlands study, and an endangered species study. Detailed information had to be provided on utility excess capacities, including water, sanitary sewer, natural gas and electric. Duke Energy worked closely with the county on the site.

“The SiteOhio process required Clermont County to meet some very exacting and tough standards,” said Ed Humphrey, President of the Board of County Commissioners. “This authentication will tell potential companies that seek us out that we are serious about providing the best environment possible for their expansion.”

Kristi Clouse, JobsOhio Executive Director of Operations, said, “The SiteOhio Authentication provides businesses the confidence that they can invest in Clermont County successfully on day one. The South Afton site is the first in Southwest Ohio to receive this distinction, and we are excited for the opportunities it can bring to job creators looking to grow in Williamsburg Township.”

JobsOhio began its SiteOhio authentication program in 2016. It hired InSite Consulting Group to evaluate industrial park sites around the state to determine if they met the standards for being included in the SiteOhio program. InSite said South Afton has great potential. “The South Afton Industrial Park is one of the top industrial parks in the Midwest,” said Rob Cornwell of InSite Consulting. “When you combine Clermont County’s great economic development team with the Site Ohio authentication program, the Design Within Reach location is the first of many more to come.”

“Clermont County has become a model for site competitiveness in Southwest Ohio by investing for long-term success,” said Kimm Lauterbach, President & CEO of REDI Cincinnati. “With the creation of the South Afton Industrial Park, Clermont County will be attracting new businesses to build, invest, and create jobs in our region for years to come. As the first site in Southwest Ohio authenticated through the SiteOhio program, we look forward to seeing more companies grow in Greater Cincinnati.”

Andy Kuchta, Director of Clermont County Department of Community & Economic

Development, added, “Some prospective clients that come to JobsOhio won’t even look at a site unless it has been authenticated as SiteOhio. With the SiteOhio authentication, South Afton Industrial Park will have even more appeal to businesses looking to expand or relocate.”

About South Afton Industrial Park: South Afton is a 242-acre industrial park at the southeastern corner of State Route 32 and Half Acre Road in Williamsburg Township. The land was purchased by the Clermont County CIC in February 2016 for $4.9 million, using proceeds from the Ivy Pointe development in Union Township. An economic impact study by the Economics Center of the University of Cincinnati estimated that the industrial park would eventually create more than 1,800 direct jobs and more than 1,600 indirect jobs. Read more here:

Port Authority approves bonds to support FC Cincinnati complex in Milford

BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 5, 2018) – The Clermont County Port Authority today approved issuing $30 million in lease revenue bonds to finance the cost of building a training facility and youth academy for FC Cincinnati, Cincinnati’s professional soccer league.

The vote was 4-1. Port Authority Vice Chairman Loretta Rokey, Administrator, Pierce Township; Fiscal Officer Sam DeBonis, Assistant Vice President, Park National Bank, and members Greg DeFisher, President & CEO, Freeman Schwabe Machinery, and Rex Parsons, Administrator, Batavia Township; voted in favor. Member Greg Simpson, Principal, Key Transportation Inc., voted against the resolution.

Under the agreement, the Port Authority will lease the land — 24 acres on U.S. 50 in the City of Milford near Interstate 275 – and facilities to be built to FC Cincinnati. The bonds will be privately purchased by FC Cincinnati. The construction materials will be exempted from sales tax, estimated to be $1 million.

Because the Port Authority is tax exempt, FC Cincinnati will not have to pay property taxes. It has negotiated annual payments with the Milford School District to help compensate for that. The Port Authority will receive a one-time fee of $105,000 and an annual average fee of $9,000, most of which will go to support various county levies.

“The structure of the lease answers all of the questions related to what the economic impact will actually be and if it is worth the level of incentives being provided,” said Andy Kuchta, Executive Director and Secretary of the Port Authority. “The Port Authority will have the choice to not renew the lease every 360 days for any reason. This is not a 20-year deal but a 360-day deal, full stop.

“Within the next 3-5 years there will be a comprehensive evaluation of the actual economic impacts and benefits once the facility has been constructed and operational for a period of time,” Kuchta continued. “If that evaluation determines the economic impacts have not materialized, the Port Authority will be able to substantially renegotiate the terms of these agreements or simply not renew them and return the property to a fully taxable status.”

Under the agreement, FC Cincinnati will indemnify the Port Authority from any cost, liability, claim, lawsuit or loss related to the project.

On Aug. 22, Clermont County Commissioners approved an increase in the lodging tax in the county, from 6% to 7%. The revenue generated by the increase in the tax, approximately $223,000 a year, will also be used to help support the project.

The $30 million soccer complex will include a 30,000-square-foot training facility and a 6,500-square-foot youth academy. FC Cincinnati hopes to complete the training facility by next summer.

The Port Authority decision represents the last step before the project can begin. FC Cincinnati also entered into agreements with the City of Milford and the Clermont County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

A study by Sports Facilities Advisory, a sports management consulting group based in Clearwater, Fla., estimated that the FC complex would generate almost 65,000 visitor days by out-of-town visitors and result in almost $7 million in direct spending annually.

FC Cincinnati, whose owners were recently granted expansion status by Major League Soccer, will also build an estimated $200 million stadium in the West End of Cincinnati, which is expected to be open for the 2021 season. The team currently plays at Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati.