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Dayton enjoys industrial revolution

The Dayton area is enjoying an industrial revolution of sorts, with big new industrial and distribution buildings coming online, especially near Dayton International Airport, said speakers at the I-70/75 Development Association’s annual economic summit Thursday.

But there are concerns on the horizon: With low unemployment, there are only so many workers still out there, said one executive with builder and developer Miller-Valentine Group.

And Dayton’s office space sector continues to be challenged, even as construction of Class A offices leaves an oversupply of inventory in its wake.

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In an overview of Dayton-area development, principals from Miller-Valentine pointed to projects all over the area. Companies are drawn to Dayton by low costs, the confluence of interstates 70 and 75, and being only a day’s drive away from 70 percent of the nation’s manufacturing capacity — companies representing automotive assembly, advanced manufacturing, plastics and more.

With that location, companies are coming to Dayton.

“We’ve had the highest percentage of job growth in the last year,” said Dave Dickerson, Miller-Valentine’s Dayton president, comparing Dayton’s job growth to other Ohio cities.

NorthPoint Development, for example, has built two large distribution sites off National Road near the airport and is readying to build a third big building. Spectrum Brands, famous for its STP auto care products, occupies the first building, and on Wednesday, Alpla, an international manufacturer that makes plastic packaging, said it will take 154,000 square feet of the second NorthPoint location, creating 50 jobs.

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“Most dramatically you can see the positive trend in our industrial market,” Dickerson said. “(Industrial) vacancies have dramatically dropped since the 2010-11 market, and we’re now below 10 percent within the industrial market.”

Gerry Smith, Miller-Valentine senior vice president, agreed that NorthPoint is significant. He said those sites are “price-driven” to an extent, with space advertised at about $3.85 per square foot.

But Smith also pointed to possible “limiting” factors.

“With 3.5 percent unemployment, where are we going to find the next 100 forklift drivers?” he said. “There are only so many in town.”

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Rental rates for industrial spaces are starting to creep up a bit, Dickerson said. Other big sites are being marketed in Tipp City, Vandalia and elsewhere, he said.

Construction costs are rising, and that could slow projects in time. But today, demand for space is strong, said Adrienne Ruebusch, vice president of business development at Miller-Valentine.

“Companies are coming to us and saying: ‘We need a new building, and we need it yesterday,’” Ruebusch said.

Dickerson and others said office transactions are happening, at the Taylor Communication’s 111 W. First St. building, at 444 E. Second St., and with CareSource expansions. Class A office space is hot and medical offices are in demand, said Steve Ireland, Miller-Valentine vice president.

But there’s an abundance of space, he cautioned.

“I think the office market is going to remain somewhat flat because there’s too much inventory,” Ireland said.

Statewide, since July 2011, JobsOhio has helped bring more than 139,000 new jobs to Ohio, with a new payroll amounting to more than $6.2 billion, said Glenda Bumgarner, senior director for JobsOhio, the state’s private development corporation.

In that time, the state has retained more than 416,000 jobs that were at risk of moving, retaining a payroll of $24.3 billion.

Since 2011, Ohio has seen more than 38.2 billion in new capital investment, she said.

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