January 16, 2003
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Bringing a business park to town

Given the positive, almost consensus-like nature of Monday’s commerce park meeting, it is clear that now is the time to increase efforts to get a park built in Yellow Springs. And given uncertainties in the local economy, and concerns about the budgets of the Village and the school district, business growth is needed. The construction of a commercial development is a good way to facilitate that expansion.

The purpose of the Jan. 13 retreat, which was hosted by Community Resources, a group that has actively been involved in local economic issues, was not to debate the merits of building a commerce park in town. Most, if not all of those at the meeting, support the idea. Instead, the focus of the retreat was about the next steps and ways to make the park a reality.

Some of the messages from the retreat included:

• Get control of a site to develop

• Identify the type of businesses that we want to occupy the park, and then go get them

• Have a marketing strategy to lure businesses to town or sell a developer on building a park here

• The community will have to offer incentives or abatements to a developer and the businesses that will occupy the facility

• Counter perceptions that Yellow Springs is antibusiness

• Don’t overlook existing Yellow Springs businesses as potential park occupants

If a commerce park is built in town, it will likely be located on either part of the Pitstick Farm on East Enon Road or on farmland owned by Vernay Laboratories on the corner of East Enon and Dayton-Yellow Springs roads. Both properties are included in a cooperative economic development agreement, or CEDA, between Village Council and the Miami Township trustees. Approved last year, the agreement signaled both boards’ commitment to business growth. While the CEDA was a significant achievement, it does not contain an actual project, nor does it say how a project would be constructed.

Now Yellow Springs must tackle a bigger challenge: bringing a project to town. A good place to start is a position paper by Community Resources and a proposal by Council president Tony Arnett. In its paper, Community Resources called upon Council and the trustees to take concrete action to get a commerce park built in town. Mr. Arnett proposed that the Village instigate the development of business space by naming a specific building location and creating incentives to support a project, instead of playing a central role in the development.

Despite a few serious setbacks — such as Vernay Laboratories’ decision to close its local plants — efforts have progressed on business development issues over the last year. It’s important to carry this momentum forward in 2003.

—Robert Mihalek