Springboro attracting firms from neighboring cities

SPRINGBORO — Dayton’s Gem City Ballet and the Tooling Zone in Kettering are the latest of a handful of companies and institutions intent on moving to Springboro from other longtime Dayton-area locations.

Gem City, the pre-professional dance company affiliated with the Pontecorvo Ballet School, announced plans to move to Springboro, ending 18 years in Dayton.

Also, the Tooling Zone, a machine shop with 33 employees, ended 15 years in Kettering with the purchase of a building in Springboro.

Area communities try to think regionally and attract new businesses but sometimes wind up battling over existing companies, local officials say.

“It is a competition. We’re all trying to maintain our tax base,” Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said.

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Located along Interstate 75 between Cincinnati and Dayton, Springboro also continues to entertain expansion plans from existing businesses while drawing new companies from nearby communities — even in the face of economic hard times here and around the globe.

Probably its biggest coup came earlier this year when — after more than 50 years in Dayton and Miamisburg — Thaler Machine decided to move into an industrial park in Springboro, adding 25,000 square feet of space. Thaler employs more than 70 workers and hopes to create 36 jobs in the next three years.

Springboro, east of I-75 along the Montgomery-Warren county line, was also selected by Maryland-based Brickman Landscaping as the new location of a regional office for about 70 employees working out of Middletown for the past three years.

After almost a century in Franklin, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and leaders of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church have begun the move to Springboro.

While linked to the city’s location, these relocations were also influenced by factors including cheap land or affordable, available buildings. Springboro’s affluent population and demographics played a role in the moves as well, officials said.

“There are hundreds of little things like that that make up a corporate decision,” Schwieterman said. “Cities don’t control all of those.”

By moving to Springboro, Barbara Pontecorvo and husband David Shough, head of the Gem City, moved closer to the kind of wealthy aspiring ballerinas they hope to attract.

“We saw that that area between Dayton and Cincinnati is the fastest-growing area around,” Pontecorvo said.

They also will be closer to their home in Carlisle and their Great Danes.

A deal to buy their new building, the former Chantrell’s party center, for $700,000 collapsed when they were unable to sell their Dayton property, Pontecorvo said. However, after the center was foreclosed, they were able to buy the Springboro site for $300,000 at auction, she said.

They also added 5,000 square feet, enabling them to stage performances in their new building, just off I-75, and eliminate the costs associated with renting performance venues.

“It’s just is too expensive to stay down here with that much space,” Pontecorvo said from her building on First Street in downtown Dayton. “I would love to stay in Dayton.”

Steve Iiams, owner of the Tooling Zone, already lives in Springboro. He went from tenant to building owner in the move.

The Tooling Zone is eligible for a $12,000 relocation grant from Springboro through the same program that provided Thaler $50,000 toward moving expenses.

Such an incentive was secondary for Iiams and the Tooling Zone. “We’re able to double our size. Our monthly payment is going to be the same. And we own the building,” he said.

Thinking regionally

Springboro and Kettering are part of Business First, a Montgomery County initiative designed to control competition between area communities for each other’s companies. “They call it moving the deck chairs. Business First is about not moving the deck chairs,” Schwieterman said.

Recognizing the hazards of such competition, Business First members agree to follow a protocol before bringing another member’s city’s business to town.

“Obviously I’d like to keep all our companies in Kettering and bring more companies in Kettering,” Schwieterman said. “If we can’t do that, we want to keep them in the region.”

In the Tooling Zone case, Springboro officials notified their counterparts in Kettering, who contacted the Tooling Zone.

“They appreciated our phone calls. They were going to go to the new location,” Schwieterman said.

Other good news

Last week’s award of a $5.5 million state loan to Hearth Grains Bakery was the latest good economic news in Springboro.

The business, affiliated with Klosterman Baking, is expected to use the taxable bond from the Ohio Department of Development to finance a new production line at its facility on Pioneer Boulevard in Springboro.

In addition, Wright-Patt Credit Union is planning to build a new branch across from Dorothy Lane Market and the Settlers Walk community on North Main Street (Ohio 741).

On the east side of Settlers Walk, Kentucky-based Fischer Homes is in the process of developing a 140-acre subdivision stalled several years ago by the bankruptcy of Ron Coffman, developer of Settlers Walk.

And Mills Development, based in Beavercreek, is moving forward with the development of the first building in a $38.9 million office campus in the city’s business park near Austin Pike.

“We’ve got some nice locations,” Mayor John Agenbroad said. “There’s a lot of things going on.”

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