Amazon grows, downtown explodes among top local 2017 business stories

Whether it was Amazon expanding its Ohio footprint or Kroger plotting its next move, 2017 was a big year for business news in the region.

Here’s 10 of the top business stories from this year:

1. Amazon expands in Ohio, draws HQ2 big bidding frenzy

Amazon confirmed it plans to open its a 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Monroe, which will hire about 1,000 full-time workers when open. The Seattle giant also plans to open two more fulfillment centers in northwest Ohio, joining its two new centers already operating near Columbus. The projects are all aided by big state incentives.

Amazon also started a bidding frenzy among cities vying to be the location of the company’s next headquarters.

Beyond the construction, the e-commerce giant’s presence could be felt in the region as it squeezed grocery stores, upended clothing chains and poised itself to reshape an even more industries in 2018.

2. Fuyao draws national spotlight

Fuyao Glass America drew an international spotlight last month when employees at the auto glass factory voted by a resounding 886 to 441 vote against joining the United Auto Workers. This defeated the union's more than 18-month attempt to organize Ohio's largest Chinese-owned factory, which started production in 2015.

Fuyao has been repeatedly cited for safety violations. OSHA fined Fuyao for four new safety problems in June, which follows a November 2016 citation that was later reduced from the $226,937 penalty to $100,000.

3. Wright State University fights financial woes

Wright State, one of the largest local universities and employers, faced budget issues and tense bargaining with faculty over a new contract this year. The university trimmed more than $30.8 million from its fiscal year 2018 budget to begin correcting years of overspending that drained the school’s reserve fund. Wright State’s legal bills also continued to climb to more than $2 million as the federal H-1B visa investigation that started more than two years ago continues on.

4. Demand continues for downtown Dayton housing

Residents continued to snap up downtown Dayton apartments and condos this year. Woodard Development and Crawford Hoying started construction on the next phase of Water Street District, bringing 54 new housing units. The developers also bought an industrial property next to Fifth Third Field with plans to tear down and build new housing.

Developer Charlie Simms continued his downtown townhouse success streak, cutting the ribbon on the 17-home Monument Walk and continuing work on the 14-home City View development near the Dayton Metro Library main branch.

And there appears to be room for more. A Downtown Dayton Partnership report in June indicated the Central Business District could absorb 950 more owner-occupied homes and about 1,400 more apartments.

5. CareSource keeps growth streak going

The $7 billion non-profit insurance company is building a new six story building near its headquarters to help hold its growing staff, now at about 2,000. The company, which primarily manages Medicaid plans, grew its private insurance side that sells plans on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Despite uncertainty surrounding federal health care legislation, CareSource made national headlines when it stepped up to offer health plans in Paulding County, which until that point had been the last county in the U.S. without an insurer lined up to sell a plan on the ACA exchange in 2018. More big changes are on the horizon for the company next year when its chief executive officer Pamela Morris retires in May after leading the non-profit since it was started 28 years ago.

6. Stock market surges in record year

Donald Trump's election as U.S. president further sparked a bull run in the stock market that has not stopped. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has surpassed 24,700 as of Christmas, a growth of nearly 6,000 points since the election. The a remarkable year for investors has included 80 new record closing highs.

7. Dayton area home prices, sales rise

It was a hot year for home sales overall in the Dayton area, with home values, prices and the number of sales all on the rise. Final end-of- year numbers for 2017 haven’t been released, but the Dayton Area Board of Realtors reported in November the median home sale price rose nearly 6 percent higher than the year before and the number of homes sold rose 1.18 percent.

The housing market however was uneven across the region, with whiter and more affluent areas seeing bigger gains in value, while the housing market in poor and black neighborhoods continued to slide. A Cleveland Fed researcher also reported in Montgomery County, black borrowers, regardless of income, are less likely to be approved for home purchase loans than white borrowers.

8. Austin Landing area attracts new businesses, development

Austin Landing and its surrounding area continued to attract new development and is poised for more growth in 2018. Developer VisCap working on a $350 million plan to stretch south into Springboro for the next phase of Austin Landing and is still attracting new businesses and retail to the original 142-acre Miami Twp. development.


The area surrounding the Austin Boulevard interchange also grew, with United Grinding opening its new plant, new tenants coming to a 60,000 spec building on nearby Byers Road, and Premier breaking ground on a $12 million emergency department near Yaskawa Motoman.

9. Online retail grows, brick-and-mortar struggles to shift

It was a year of growing pains for much of the retail industry. Sears' retail empire continued to crumble throughout 2017, including a June announcement that it would shut down an additional 72 stores on top of the 180 stores it is already closing. Sears also closed its last local Kmart. Macy's announced in January that it would close 68 locations. Payless, RadioShack, The Limited, Gymboree and Toys R Us were all among large bankruptcies in 2017.

10. Hospital construction charges ahead

Local hospital systems charged ahead with new construction in the Dayton region this year. Premier Health, Kettering Health Network and Dayton Children’s Hospital announced or started construction on more than $140 million in new facilities in 2017.

Premier is wrapping up an expansion at its Miami Valley Hospital South Campus and planning a new $10 million center partnered with Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, a new $12 million emergency department in Miamisburg and four new urgent care centers. Kettering Health is building a new $60 million Troy hospital and $30 million Middletown medical center. Dayton Children’s finished its new main campus patient tower and is planning a new $28 million community-focused health center and a new urgent care in Huber Heights.

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