Amazon’s growing presence in Southwest Ohio: What’s really going on?

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 9:06 AM

See Amazon's million-square-foot building site in Monroe

Online giant Amazon is expanding rapidly in Southwest Ohio with a new fulfillment center set to open in Monroe — and Dayton and Cincinnati officials want the company to have an even bigger presence in the region.

The two cities have joined forces to submit an application to bring Amazon’s second $5 billion headquarters to the area. Applications are due later this month. Dayton’s and Cincinnati’s applications to Amazon will emphasize the “uber region” that sits between the two cities.

Here are five things you need to know about Amazon’s growing presence in the area:

1. SECOND HEADQUARTERS Dayton and Cincinnati will submit an application together for the second headquarters. Dayton-Cincinnati combined is the 15th largest region in the U.S., according to Shelley Dickstein, Dayton city manager. “Keep in mind that we’re talking about 50,000 jobs, so should we win this bid, there will be people coming from both the Dayton and Cincinnati areas to work there,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. READ ON

2. EXPANSION IN MONROE Amazon confirmed last month its plans to open a fourth Ohio fulfillment center that will create more than 1,000 full-time jobs in the Warren County portion of Monroe. The one-million-square foot facility near Interstate 75 will house employees who will pick, pack and ship larger customer orders.

» WATCH: Amazon’s new shopping concept means never waiting in lines

3. TAX INCENTIVES The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 1.39 percent, 10-year tax credit for the Amazon facility in Monroe that is expected to create $26.7 million in new payroll and be a $30 million fixed-asset investment. The tax credit starts in January. As part of the tax credit agreement, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority says Amazon will have to maintain operations at the Monroe location for at least 13 years.

» RELATED: AN INSIDE LOOK AT ONE OF AMAZON’S OHIO FULFILLMENT CENTERS

4. MONROE PROJECT COMPLETION The expected Amazon project completion date is Dec. 28, 2018, and the “tenant improvement portion” of the project will be completed no later than Feb. 1, 2019.

5. GROWING PRESENCE In Ohio, Amazon has already launched operations at two different fulfillment centers in Etna and Obetz, and also has Prime Now sites in Columbus and Valley View — and more than 6,000 employees in the state. Amazon’s intricate network of fulfillment and distribution facilities across the world make it possible for products to be sorted, packed and shipped within minutes.

Amazon will continue to expand in Ohio, adding another fulfillment center — and another 1,000 jobs — in Euclid.

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Feeling crafty this holiday season? 5 artsy ideas that can bring in cash

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 4:27 PM

The following jobs may start you off as a volunteer or part-time, but with potential for advancement Package handler for UPS Bell ringers for Salvation Army Retail cashiers or warehouse work Santa's helpers for photography companies Gift wrapper at department stores Shelter servers in your community Delivery drivers for Lyft or Uber

The most wonderful time of the year could be a wonderful time for your wallet as well. 

If you're a pro at arts and crafts, the Christmas season opens up opportunities to showcase your talents and develop a lucrative holiday business.

RELATED: 7 temp holiday jobs to flip into full-time fun

"Christmas is one of the busiest times for me as a graphic designer," said Tonya Wright, an award-winning, Georgia-based creative consultant and owner of Wright Touch Designs. "Creatives who don't capitalize on this time of year are missing out on a lot of freelance projects that make money. I've been in this industry for more than 15 years, and people still appreciate original gifts. In December, I rake in around $1,500-plus from designing and selling digital holiday cards and promotional merchandising."

The following jobs can produce real money and crafty workers can use them to jump start creative careers during the holiday season:

Turn your creative hobby into a gift-giving profit for yourself during the holidays.

Graphic design

Merging art and technology, seasoned graphic designers can take an idea and bring it to print or digital life for editorial, marketing and advertising projects.

  • Holiday How-To: During the holidays, exercise this design skill by creating custom-made Christmas cards and letters that families and friends can use for e-blasts, social media posts and printed keepsakes.

Cake decorating

With steady hands to apply confetti, icing and, at times, out-the-box embellishments onto cakes, pies and pastries, cake decorators give personality to their sweet masterpieces. 

  • Holiday How-To: Before the holiday season begins, start baking breath-taking winter wonderland-themed desserts worth sharing on social media like Pinterest and Instagram. Not only will you attract followers, but you'll start collecting orders for your extravagant baked goods in time for Christmas and the new year. 

Window painting

These artists know how to dress up a storefront by telling a visually engaging window story using paint. 

  • Holiday How-ToVisit local businesses to see if they have any cool holiday promos or campaigns going on. Then pitch them on how you can artfully illustrate their theme or project to woo Christmas shoppers and passersby. 
Creatively collaborating with local businesses during the holiday season could earn you extra cash and kick start a new career for the new year.

Lifestyle photographing

Creatives in this category know how to capture ordinary people in natural settings to create memorable images. 

  • Holiday How-ToBuild a relationship with venues and area companies in need of original, festive stock photography. Then contract with them annually to capture local images of scenic events and holiday shoppers.

Seasonal copywriting

If you're skilled at effectively stringing words together that make people want to ring in the new year, consider copywriting throughout the Christmas season.
  • Holiday How-To:Collaborate with skilled graphic designers and illustrators to develop authentic, punchy postcards and party fliers that individuals and companies can use to promote events or thank partners, sponsors and colleagues. 

County unveils development portal

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:05 PM

THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Montgomery County is unveiling a new marketing and economic development web site, www.selectmcohio.com.

The online portal, designed by a Minnesota company, is meant to attract business site selectors and retain businesses who call Montgomery County home.

“We are excited that this website ties together our previous marketing campaigns and serves as an anchor for our future marketing and business attraction efforts,” said County Commission President Dan Foley. “Site selectors, economic development professionals and businesses will immediately see the advantages of locating and expanding in Montgomery County.”

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County government selected the Golden Shovel Agency, based in Little Falls, Minn., to create the web site.

“This national economic development communications firm is recognized for their award-winning design and expertise in business and workforce attraction,” the county said.

“The staff at Montgomery County were ambitious about putting together a best practices resource to expand and grow business; they accomplished that goal,” Aaron Brossoit, Golden Shovel chief executive, said in the county’s announcement on the web site.

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Montgomery County Development Services combines economic development, community development, workforce, planning, and building resources at the site.

“Each section of the site has further links to additional resources and best practices, including the building regulations department which includes everything developers need to locate and build in Montgomery County, as well as project success checklists to more easily guide residential and commercial builders of all experience levels,” the county said.

Better to give? 7 things to know about donating to charity as a holiday gift

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 11:17 AM

Nearly 7 In 10 Americans In New Survey Say They’d Give Up Giving Gifts This Holiday Season

If "Family Feud" featured "the top reasons you donate to charity instead of a Christmas present," these answers might pop up on the board: Ran out of time. Angry at recipient. Too much materialism. Really love the charity.

But would a family member or other loved one really appreciate these (mostly) noble efforts? Possibly if you’ve selected the right gift recipient among other things.

A donation to charity could become a bona fide Christmas present, according to Consumer Reports. "Giving to charity in lieu of, or in addition to, a traditional holiday gift has a lot going for it," the consumer watchdog noted. "It restores the idea that the holidays are about caring for and helping others. And it's a simple and elegant alternative to finding a gift for that person who has everything."

RELATED: The best and worst charities for your donations

Scott Galupo, a writer for The American Conservative, considers the gesture problematic at best.

"I'm not sure these are 'gifts,' properly understood," he wrote. "A gift by its nature is supposed to be selfless." A donation to charity, according to Galupo, "violates this principal virtue of gift-giving. It reflects attention back to the giver. A certain sense of self-righteousness underlies the whole enterprise. 'We all have so much already,' the giver says. 'I want to help the less fortunate.'"

But Galupo agrees with CR and other experts that there are times a charitable gift at the holiday is a good thing, just not for everyone or even most people.

These experts, including nonprofits that benefit from charitable gifts at the holidays, shared seven tips for donating a charitable gift at Christmas:

Make sure the recipient wants a donation. This means no passive donations made because a relative never reciprocates or you've learned they always return your other gifts on Boxing Day. "Not everyone will be happy with a charitable donation made on their behalf, especially if they're expecting a traditional gift," CR noted. "Consider asking in advance, even if it spoils the surprise."

According to experts at The Life You Can Save nonprofit, good indicators that a person might be open to a charitable donation in their name include prior complaints about owning too much stuff and being open to new ideas and charitable giving in general. In other words, if Uncle Mort prides himself on never donating a dime and has worn the same suit for 20 years, he's not a good candidate.

Combine a charity gift with another gift if needed. Sometimes Christmas is one of the very few times a recipient gets a nice or traditional gift. So if you've always given your Aunt Marge a new nightie at Christmas, you might need to continue that tradition or add a personal touch to the charity gift. Add a smaller but related present, like a sleep mask, for example.

Choose the appropriate organization. Start by noting which organizations your recipient already contributes to throughout the year, advised Galupo. "Maybe, instead of those mosquito nets, the intended recipient would appreciate a donation to her local parish; instead of that animal shelter, a battered women's shelter. Agreement, in other words, should not be assumed."

Make sure a donation doesn't involve an automatic rollover. The Life You Can Save blog noted that automatic rollovers are tough to keep up with, and you may inadvertently be giving the same gift for years if you're not careful.

Avoid charity gift cards. It's convenient to pay for a gift card that allows the recipient or loved ones to select from a list of charities they'd like to receive the money. CR criticizes this option in most cases. "We've seen handling fees of as much as $5, which would go to a charity if you donated directly," the media outlet noted. "There also can be mailing fees and additional charges when the recipient designates the group or groups to receive the money. There may be few or no local or regional groups." Last, a charity gift card might expire, returning the money to the issuer, not a charity.

Give a gift that gives back instead. You can also give a charitable Christmas gift that turns the gift-to-donation ratio upside down. There are numerous holiday gifts that involve goodies for your loved one and a little extra for a beneficiary charity.

Just a few recommended by Good Housekeeping include travel-size skin savers that also benefit victims of domestic abuse; a French-inspired tote with all proceeds going to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for women worldwide; and floral rain boots that turn 10 percent of profits to education initiatives.

Always check out any charity you plan to give to. A good place to start is Give.org, the "wise giving alliance" for the Better Business Bureau.

Springboro to review assisted-living center already under construction

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 11:55 AM


            A construction crew was performing site work Tuesday for an assisted-living center yet to be approved by the Springboro Planning Commission. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD
A construction crew was performing site work Tuesday for an assisted-living center yet to be approved by the Springboro Planning Commission. STAFF/LAWRENCE BUDD

The Springboro Planning Commission on Wednesday is to review and possibly vote on plans for a 15,685-square foot assisted-living facility already under construction 600 feet southeast of the corner of Lytle-Five Points Road and North Main Street (Ohio 741) in Springboro.

The 6.3-acre property is to be developed as a 24-unit assisted-living facility operated by Beehive Homes, a national operator with similar facilities in 18 states. The Springboro location, just west of the Woodland Greens residential development, would be the first in Ohio, according to the company website.

“We’re hoping to be open by the fall of 2018,” said John Schaeffer, administrator of the proposed facility already offering tours.

MORE: Development picks up for 750 acres in Springboro

According to staff report submitted for Wednesday’s meeting, the plan was reviewed, but not approved, at the commission’s Oct. 11 work session. The applicant was authorized to submit a plan for formal approval at a future meeting. A similar plan was on the Sept. 13 work session agenda, but was withdrawn.

Site work was continuing on Tuesday.

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According to the staff report, clearing and grading of the site as well as footer/foundation work has already begun.

“Clearing and grading is permitted on private, undeveloped property, subject to compliance with sedimentation and erosion control regulations as well as the marking of trees for compliance with landscape and buffering requirements of the local code. Footer-foundation work is also permitted at the risk of the property owner, subject to compliance with a preliminary review by the planning commission and issuance of a building permit,” the staff report said.

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Burkhardt Engineering Co. made the application on behalf of CS Five Point LLC. The zoning permits the proposed use and building.

City staff recommended approval with more than 30 conditions.

The commission meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Springboro City Hall, 320 W. Central Ave. in Springboro. For more information, call 937-748-4343.