Workers assemble a truck on the assembly line at Navistar. Bill Lackey/Staff

More than 3,400 new jobs committed to Dayton region

DDC encouraged by strong 2016

Companies relocating or expanding in the Dayton region this year committed to create 3,400 new jobs and the pipeline for committements in 2017 is “very strong,” Dayton Development Coalition officials said.

Early in 2016, Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition, felt the year might see something of a dampening in new job commitments to the Dayton region.

Not so, as it turned out.

When the papers are signed and the work is complete, coalition leaders are confident that work in 2016 will result in commitments of more than 3,400 new jobs in the group’s 14-county Western Ohio region. That includes an expected capital investment of about $299.5 million.

That’s above the commitment of 3,136 jobs recorded in 2015 and in the neighborhood of the 3,558 jobs posted in 2014.

“That’s a good year,” Hoagland said in a interview last week in coalition offices in Kettering Tower.

Important announcements from CareSource in Dayton and Tenneco in Kettering kept the year on pace, Hoagland and fellow coalition officers said. So did commitments made by Navistar in Springfield, Airstream in Shelby County and Golden Fresh Farms in Wapakoneta.

“It’s been busier, or just as busy, the whole year and very constant,” Hoagland said. “Even this December — years ago, it used to slow down. It doesn’t slow down anymore. Everything blends into the next month.”

While the coalition doesn’t identify specific companies or moves before other partners are ready, he hopes announcements are forthcoming in the areas of research and development and more.

‘A nice triangulation’

Some of the bigger successes in 2016 included:

CareSource in late October announced plans to build a seven-story building at Jefferson and First streets that will help the nonprofit add an expected 400 new jobs.

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The building, which will be called “CareSource Center City,” will be 250,000 square feet and will house 900 employees. Groundbreaking is set for 2017 and is expected to be finished in 2019, company officials said.

The current green space for the new building is easily visible from the coalition’s windows on Kettering Tower’s ninth floor, not far from CareSource’s main headquarters building off North Main Street and the company’s “Ballpark Village” location at 220 E. Monument Ave.

“A new seven-story building right on that site,” said Julie Sullivan, the coalition’s executive vice president, development. “It will creates a nice triangulation of their campus.”

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Navistar announced a 300-jobs, $12 million expansion of its Springfield plant in late 2015. Then in June, the company announced a deal with General Motors saying the company will build a cutaway model of GM’s G Van in Springfield beginning early in 2017.

It was the second joint agreement between the two companies.

Combined the two deals mean at least 600 more jobs at Navistar’s Springfield plant in coming years.

Further north, Airstream Inc. last month announced a $3.5 million expansion to have more space for research and development at its Jackson Center plant.

The RV and trailer manufacturer intends to add 50,000-square-feet to an existing building to build a larger and more advanced R&D facility while adding manufacturing space.

In December 2015, the company told the Dayton Daily News it needed 50 new workers, as well as another 100 new employees late in 2016 and early in 2017, fueled by strong RV sales.

“Their growth I would describe as pretty explosive over the last several years,” Sullivan said.

Remotely piloted

Officials in Kettering and Montgomery County are eyeing Tenneco, which they hope will all but double its auto parts-producing workforce at its Woodman Drive plant.

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The coalition can’t say when the company may publicly confirm its plans, but Sullivan says the organization has been in contact with Tenneco for more than a year.

If the expansion happens, it would mean means 483 new jobs for the Kettering plant with 478 retained or existing jobs.

“I think it speaks well of the region that we’re still up for consideration for a project like that,” she said. “We may end up winning it.”

Also, the coalition continues to eye the region’s potential in the unpiloted aerial systems (UAS) arena.

Maurice McDonald, the coalition’s executive vice president for aerospace and defense, said Air Force Research Laboratory — based at the state’s biggest single-site employer, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — is nearing the point where it will be able to perform UAS testing and research for “beyond-the-visual-line-of-sight” projects — work involving controlling a remotely piloted craft beyond a pilot’s direct sight.

The AFRL has doing that that work out west and on government ranges, McDonald said. But AFRL researchers would like to work closer to home.

The Air National Guard Base at Springfield and Wilmington Air Park in Clinton County have been identified as promising sites for that kind of work, McDonald said.

“The ultimate goal is they’ll (the AFRL) be flying in the spring of next year,” McDonald said.

Though it was a good year, coalition leaders have concerns. Those include the timing of a possible — and as yet, unannounced — BRAC (military base closure and realignment process), a recession and even the region’s low unemployment.

“That’s problematic because the companies need a supply” of workers, Hoagland said of the area’s low unemployment.

Coalition leaders will have more to say about these and other projects at its annual meeting, set for Feb. 1, 2017.

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