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Kettering could purchase 305 acres at Miami Valley Research Park

Published: Friday, May 19, 2017 @ 5:07 PM


            City of Kettering will purchase 305 acres of the Miami Valley Research Park for $1.5 million. FILE

In a push to attract new businesses to the city, Kettering could soon buy 305 acres of the land in the Miami Valley Research Park.

The city is expected to approve a contract Tuesday to purchase the undeveloped land in the Kettering portion of the giant commercial business park. The non-profit foundation, Miami Valley Research Foundation, that runs the development has been looking to sell off land and buildings.

Gregg Gorsuch, Kettering’s economic development manager, told the Dayton Daily News that if council agrees to the contract, the city would close on the deal in July. He said the deal will cost the city $1.5 million at closing, and could go up to $3 million if certain deed restrictions are lifted. The deal does not include any buildings already standing.

One of those major deed restrictions requires any business that moves into the park to be science or research-oriented. Gorsuch said the purchase would allow Kettering to lure in new businesses and help current businesses expand within city limits — a major economic driver.

» INITIAL REPORT: Kettering to purchase 305 acres of Miami Valley Research Park

“The biggest restriction is the requirement for any business operation going out there having to have a research and development component to it,” he said. “It’s fine, we can do that, but it would open it up to more business opportunities if it was lifted.”

If the restrictions are removed, the city would then be able to utilize its locally controlled zoning codes to work with prospective businesses, said Stacy Wall Schweikhart, city spokeswoman.

The business park spans 1,250 acres in Kettering and Beavercreek and is home to some of the Miami Valley’s largest companies, including Reynolds and Reynolds. In October, the Dayton Daily News reported that the Miami Valley Research Foundation was looking to sell four buildings and more than 700 acres of undeveloped land valued at $30 million.

In the early 1980s, the state granted more than 600 acres of land and $20 million to develop a business park that would focus on research, scientific, academic and related organizations. Later, more land was purchased in Beavercreek to bring the total to 1,250 acres — that land does not have a deed restriction that the original land has, which stipulates what type of company can acquire residence within the park.

» RELATED: Mass casualty exercise planned in Kettering

Land Holding LLC will assume ownership of the four existing buildings from the foundation. The University of Dayton, Wright State University, and Sinclair Community College will continue to lead efforts, in collaboration with regional leaders, to attract innovative new organizations to the complex, according to a statement.

Local college presidents from Sinclair Community College, the University of Dayton and Wright State University are permanent trustees of the foundation, and they now say the park should transition into a new phase — with new ownership of the land, different leadership in the foundation, and a loosening of property deed restrictions.

WSU, Sinclair and UD presidents are permanent Class A trustees, and MVRF board chair Steve Johnson said they don’t see the need for presidents to be required leaders of the foundation. It would require state action to officially take the presidents off the board.

“The Miami Valley Research Foundation Board is pleased with this news, both for what it means for our community and for the future of the Miami Valley Research Park,” Johnson said. “This investment provides an excellent opportunity for economic development for the future of our community and also provides the Research Park with the stability needed to move forward. This is a great day for all parties involved.”

The original purpose was to promote scientific and technology-based work within higher education while creating a tighter knit community of local universities. Johnston told this newspaper in a previous interview that the recession had impacted the economic health of the park, and it was difficult to use the same business model the park was founded under.

As the economy bounces back, the land will open new opportunities for the city, said Kettering Mayor Don Patterson. He said the universities worked graciously with the city to execute the land purchase.

“Reinvestment in the Miami Valley Research Park is essential to the long term growth and stability of our region,” Patterson said. “As a land-locked community, the opportunity to acquire green space appropriate for commercial development is rare and one we couldn’t pass up. We are confident that this is a wise investment for the future of Kettering.”

BY THE NUMBERS

1,250: total acres in the park

$410 million: amount of capital investment in park development

22: total buildings in the park

450: total acres developed in the park

4,000+: workers in the park at various companies

OSHA: Hazardous condition alleged at AK Steel site ‘did not exist’

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 7:15 AM
Updated: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 9:53 AM

Butler County-based steelmaker AK Steel.
Staff photo by Nick Daggy

An investigation into alleged hazards at AK Steel’s Middletown Works site was closed shortly after it was opened on the grounds the hazardous condition did not exist, according to documents obtained by this news outlet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

FIRST REPORT: OSHA to AK Steel: Investigate alleged workplace hazards

OSHA, in a March 22 letter to AK Steel, detailed the complaint it received regarding the alleged hazards, including “welders have no certification to weld or pressure pipes, structures, railings, etc.” and “no welding logs are being kept for certifications purposes.”

In its letter, OSHA informed AK Steel it had until March 29 to respond to the letter.

That response was sent by OSHA last week as part of a public records request made by this outlet at the onset of the investigation.

AK Steel, upon receipt of complaint from OSHA, conducted “a prompt and thorough investigation,” gathering and reviewing welding certifications issued over the last 10 years, according to Mick Paddock, manager of safety and health at the West Chester Twp.-based company, in a March 29 letter.

“In that timeframe, AK Steel has certified nearly 200 of its employees as welders,” Paddock said. “The enclosed documents confirm that AK Steel maintains appropriate documentation of the certification of its welders, and the complaint’s vague allegation to the contrary is without merit.”

AK Steel is Butler County’s third-largest employer with a total of approximately 2,400 full-time employees at its Middletown Works and corporate headquarters in West Chester Twp.

MORE: AK Steel CEO named Steelmaker of the Year

Paddock said the complaint’s second point about the maintenance of “welding logs” that “AK Steel does not maintain welding logs dedicated to welding certifications, but no such logs are required.”

American Society of Mechanical Engineers standards indicate that a welder’s certification is renewed every six months as long as, within that six month period, the welder performs a successful weld using the relevant welding process under the supervision and control of a qualifying manufacturer, contractor or participating organization, Paddock said.

“AK Steel’s employees regularly perform welding work under AK Steel’s supervision and control, and this work is inspected and approved upon completion of each job,” he said in the letter. “This inspection and approval is documented in work orders associated with each job, but to gather and produce every work order would be voluminous and burdensome.”

AK Steel did provide OSHA with dated and signed welder qualification test records.

RELATED: AK Steel unveils $36M research and innovation center

Paddock said that given the large number of welders for whom AK Steel maintains certification, and AK Steel’s process for continuous inspection and approval of welding work performed at AK Steel’s Middletown Works, the company is “confident that its welding processes are performed by qualified and properly certified welders, and these processes do not pose any workplace hazards.”

“Moreover, AK Steel is also confident that its record retention practices for welding certifications does not violate … any of the standards promulgated under the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” he said. “OSHA standards do not specify any requirements to generate or retain any documents relating to the qualifications or certification of welder employees.”

“While AK Steel maintains these records as a best practice, the absence of these records does not indicate a violation of any OSHA standard or requirement.”

OTHER: AK Steel awarded ‘Raw Material Supplier of the Year’ honor

AK Steel spokeswoman Lisa Jester said the company’s letter details how “the complaint was without merit” and how it complies with relevant OSHA standards.

“Our company’s safety record continues to exceed the industry average,” Jester said.

In a letter to the complainant, Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director, said the agency “feels the case can be closed on the grounds that the hazardous condition(s) did not exist.”

No further complaint on the matter was received, OSHA officials said.

Emerson Climate expansion: 5 things to know

Published: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 @ 10:24 AM

Emerson Climate Technologies opened its Helex Innovation Center on the University of Dayton Campus early last year. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

Emerson Climate Technologies employs nearly 2,000 employees in Sidney, but company leaders think of themselves and their company as strongly connected to Dayton.

According to a documents from the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority, the company is planning a big expansion in Sidney that could further cement the company’s Dayton connection.

RELATEDEmerson planning $73M+ in world HQ expansion near Dayton

Here’s what to know right now:

1. The planned expansion is significant.

According to the Dayton-Montgomery County Port Authority, construction on the first phase of the expansion will begin this quarter — the second quarter of 2017 — with estimated total costs of $40,061,000. Construction on the next phase is anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2019, with estimated total costs of $33,400,000.

As far as size goes, that expansion rivals the University of Dayton’s planned remaking of its fabled arena.

RELATEDEmerson opens ‘Helix’ center on UD campus

2. New lab and office space are on the drawing board

According to Port Authority documents, the company is planning a new approximately 20,000-square-foot office addition on the west side of an existing building that will include a new lobby and offices. There will also be a new employee entrance.

Emerson also plans to build about 97,000 square feet of new engineering laboratories within an existing facility, which will enable testing of refrigerant.

Also: The company is considering remodeling and building 172,000 square feet of first-floor office and vacated and demolished lab space, along with remodeling 45,000 square feet of existing second-floor office space, according to Port Authority plans.

The plans also call for a remodeled cafeteria with more natural light overlooking a new courtyard patio and green area created from a demolished AC engineering building, according to plans.

3. However, the expansion is not certain.

Right now, company officials are not saying much, and the project still depends on the granting of state and local incentives, according Jerry Brunswick, executive director of the Port Authority. He said the Port Authority has worked with the Dayton Development Coalition and JobsOhio on the project.

Still, Port Authority trustees Monday approved a capital lease financing agreement with Emerson to help the company avoid sales taxes in the purchasing of material for the construction work.

“Emerson is committed to continuing to invest in the operations for its compressor business in Sidney, Ohio and all over the world,” the company said in a brief email statement. “The company is constantly evaluating options to maintain a world class engineering and manufacturing footprint on a global basis to best serve our customers. This evaluation is ongoing but nothing has been finalized and Emerson has no announcement to make at this time.” 

4. Based in Sidney, Emerson’s leaders value a strong connection to Dayton

The company and its 1,600 employees make climate control equipment and parts in Sidney, where the company’s Climate Technologies arm has its world headquarters

Brent Schroeder, Emerson Climate Technologies group leader, heating and air conditioning, told this news outlet in a recent interview that many of the company’s managers are UD graduates. And of course, last year, the company opened a $35 million research center on West Stewart Street, on UD’s campus, called “the Helix.”

5. The company’s history is local 

The history of Emerson in Sidney goes back to the mid-1930s, and the moving of Copeland Corp. to Shelby County from Detroit. The refrigeration company was acquired by Emerson Electric in 1986 and eventually became Emerson Climate Technologies.

New store opens at Town & Country in Kettering

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 8:36 AM


            CONTRIBUTED

A new home decor and arts store has opened at Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering.

Two artists, Charity Yingling and Caleb Thomas, opened C & C Studios at the Town & Country earlier this month. The gallery space and store sells home decor, original art pieces and paintings and gifts.

The store’s slogan is “Where creativity is contagious,” and will celebrate its one-month anniversary since opening on June 3. The store will host a party from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. with drinks, a raffle drawing to win a free painting and other entertainment.

Huber Heights company to show off expansion today

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 9:18 AM


            NDC Technologies is moving its headquarters to Huber Heights. CONTRIBUTED

A California company that has moved its headquarters to Huber Heights is cutting the ribbon on its newly refurbished and expanded facility today.

NDC Technologies announced in March it was moving its headquarters operation from Irwindale, Calif. to 8001 Technology Blvd. in Huber Heights. The business already had a presence there when it made that announcement.

RELATED: One of the area’s largest employers is planning a $73M campus expansion.

The company develops and produces process measurement and control instruments. Leaders wanted to consolidate production and administration functions.

The move was “part of an ongoing strategy to drive simplification in business processes to become more agile, further improve global execution and place even greater focus on serving customers and developing new products,” the company said earlier.

Dave Roland, president of NDC, is expected to be at today’s event, with Dayton Development Coalition officials and a representative of Spectris, the United Kingdom-based company that owns NDC.

The company’s facility in Irwindale will not close, but will undergo infrastructure improvements, NDC has said. NDC also has a manufacturing facility in the U.K., and direct sales and support facilities in China, Japan, France, Germany and Italy.