Officials: Hamilton’s city tower becoming hub for cutting-edge companies

Published: Saturday, August 17, 2019 @ 9:00 AM


            Head grower Robert Norris holds freshly plucked tomatoes at 80 Acres Farms that is now operating in downtown Hamilton. They purchased the former Miami Motor Car Co. building on S. 2nd Street in February 2017 and have renovated it to create an indoor farm facility. The special pink colored lighting is controlled by a timer for optimal growing conditions. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Head grower Robert Norris holds freshly plucked tomatoes at 80 Acres Farms that is now operating in downtown Hamilton. They purchased the former Miami Motor Car Co. building on S. 2nd Street in February 2017 and have renovated it to create an indoor farm facility. The special pink colored lighting is controlled by a timer for optimal growing conditions. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

When City Manager Joshua Smith told Hamilton City Council on Wednesday that two cutting-edge indoor farming companies were placing their headquarters in the city government tower at 345 High Street, he offered his estimation of how trailblazing the two agriculture businesses are.

Smith noted Hamilton will have headquarters of 80 Acres Farms, which is named because it can grow 80 acres of worth crops in a half acre of indoor space, and the related Infinite Acres, which is a partnership between 80 Acres and two European companies. Those two companies, along with Imflux, a high-tech plastics innovator that’s a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, all will be based in Hamilton, Smith noted.

RELATED: Hamilton-based P&G subsidiary Imflux makes first-of-kind agreement with Milacron

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“We now have Imflux. We have 80 Acres. We have Infinite Acres,” Smith told the council. “I think that we can legitimately say we have three of the Top 10 most innovative companies in the state of Ohio headquartered in Hamilton, Ohio. And that’s huge for us.”

Some Ohio development experts didn’t quite endorse that ranking, but they agreed the businesses are very innovative, and also have the exciting ability to disrupt their industries. And the two agricultural firms also can make use of abandoned buildings in cities, they noted.

Ned Hill, who teaches economic development policy at Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, said, “I would celebrate it.”

“I would tend to think you’ve got this little company in Evendale, Ohio, (GE Aviation) that might argue they might be somewhat innovative,” Hill said. “If you go up to the Youngstown area, there are a couple startups up there that are doing fabulous things, but what I really like is the fact that two of these companies interact around dense urban food and help to revitalize cities. That’s really exciting.”

And with Imflux, “You’ve got a new version of the Cincinnati area’s traditional strengths in machine tooling and parts manufacturing,” Hill said. “That’s so exciting. What you’re seeing is a rebound in the portfolio of products that are coming out of the Cincinnati area, and centered in Hamilton.”

RELATED: Two innovative companies moving into Hamilton government tower

Alison Goebel, executive director of the Greater Ohio Policy Center, which has the vision of revitalizing the state’s economy, said, “The hustle that landed these companies in Hamilton is great. It shows initiative. It’s always a little bit of luck, but often it’s a lot more of hard work.”

With Imflux and the two Acres companies, “You’ve got three companies that are involved with fundamental disruption, which is interesting,” Hill said. “Hamilton could end up demonstrating something that’s kind of been kicking around in literature or among advocates for a long time, around urban farming and providing fresh food very close to market.”

“It clearly is something to be celebrated,” Hill said. “I would think that there’s lots of disruptive innovation going on around the state. But there isn’t a lot that does it and also recycles buildings at the same time.”

RELATED: Dilapidated Hamilton building transforms into an industry-changing grow facility

Goebel, whose organization has performed case-studies about what Hamilton is doing right to attract companies, said the location of companies in Hamilton shows the city is offering good quality of life for the companies’ workers.

“Generally speaking, companies are not looking just at qualifications of potential workers, but also what are the other amenities and quality-of-life conditions in the place they’re going to locate, because that’s a worker attraction/retention issue,” Goebel said. “They’ve gone to Hamilton, which tells us it’s also an amenities-rich location.”

Hamilton’s downtown area has been blossoming recently with a new park, restaurants and bars.

Shuffling who’s where in Hamilton’s city government tower

With 80 Acres Farms and Infinite Acres locating their U.S. headquarters in Hamilton’s city building at 345 High St., and the company ODW Logistics expanding its offices there, city employees won’t have to move out, but many will be moving to new areas within the building. Here’s a floor-by-floor look at who was where, and where they will be moving:

  • Seventh Floor — Moving Out: City offices of finance; law; civil service; city manager; city clerk, city council and mayor, and resident services. Moving In: 80 Acres Farms, Infinite Acres.
  • Sixth Floor — Remaining in Place: ODW Logistics.
  • Fifth Floor — Moving Out: Darana Hybrid (moving to a Lindenwald office), city offices of public works and engineering. Moving In: ODW Logistics, which is expanding.
  • Fourth Floor — Remaining in Place: City’s offices of infrastructure and utilities. Moving In: city offices of infrastructure and engineering, finance and the city manager’s office.
  • Third Floor — Remaining in Place: City offices of income tax, health, planning, building and resident services. Moving Out: City’s office of economic development. Moving In: City offices of civil service, city clerk, city council, mayor and law, with a break room added.
  • Second Floor — Remaining in Place: Courts.
  • First Floor — Remaining in Place: Customer Service and City Council Chambers. Moving In: City’s economic development offices.
  • Basement — Remaining in Place: City’s information-technology and building-services offices. No Longer There: City emergency operations, which merged with the county’s 911. Moving In: Courts security and storage.
Source: City of Hamilton