Top Dayton-area business stories of 2019

From tornadoes destroying a number of businesses on Memorial Day to General Motors announcing it would again build a new plant in the Miami Valley, it was a year of major ups and downs for local business.

Health care, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and manufacturing continued to drive the local economy in 2019 as unemployment dropped to its lowest point in several decades.

We took a look back at some of the biggest business stories of 2019.

Tornadoes business impact

The Memorial Day tornadoes had a dramatic impact on businesses, with 387 commercial or industrial properties damaged. Some, like Evans Arena in Harrison Twp., or Dayton-Phoenix Group in Old North Dayton, had to rebuild from the destruction. Some had to decide whether it was worth it to rebuild. Employees struggled to recover or were displaced.

There are still some questions that remain unanswered, including what the long term impact of the storms might be on the local business community and whether there will be any long term impact on jobs.

Ups and downs at the Dayton International Airport

Dayton International Airport is one of the few airports its size that is not growing. Fares are higher than neighboring airports and the number of passengers boarding a plane at the airport declined by 38% over the last decade. Local officials are optimistic about the airport’s future and their ability to market its merits, such as convenience and recent facility updates.

RELATED: Dayton names interim aviation director with focus on new air service

Outside the airport, one of the other biggest business stories continued to play out this year, as a series of giant new warehouses continued to be built and attract new distribution centers to the Dayton region, such as Crocs.

GM engine plant coming to Brookville

Construction started in November on a new General Motors engine plant in Brookville. The move comes around a decade after GM’s high profile closure of its Moraine plant.

The $175 million plant, which will employ around 100, was originally slated to be built in Union Twp. but that plan fell through after a legal fight between the city and Union.

The plant will manufacture components for diesel engines, complementing the work already being done at the DMAX plant in Moraine.

RELATED: Dayton airport to study future needs using federal funds

The Arcade work charges ahead

The Arcade developers finalized financing in April for the $90 million plan to revive the massive downtown Dayton complex.

The iconic city centerpiece closed in late 1991. But with scaffolding going up at the close of 2018, demolition and construction crews labored throughout the year, working to bring the complicated complex back to life.

onMain moves forward

The former Montgomery County fairgrounds is set to be redeveloped into aew neighborhood called onMain. The project is led by onMain Inc., a development organization formed by Premier Health and University of Dayton, which jointly own the 38-acre site.

The city of Dayton officially approved the plan to redevelop the site, starting from the corner of Stewart and Main.

RELATED: Frontier Airlines discontinuing Dayton flights

Miami-Luken charged

A now out-of-business Springboro pharmaceutical distributor made national headlines when it became the second distributor in the U.S. to be charged in relation to the opioid crisis.

The company, Miami-Luken, only sold about 0.1 percent of oxycodone and hydrcodone pills in the U.S. from 2006 to 2012. Yet the case against Miami-Luken is a landmark case. It’s only the second pharmaceutical distributor in the country to face a felony criminal charge by the U.S. Department of Justice in relation to the opioid crisis.

RELATED: Average airfare at Dayton airport among top five most expensive

Downtown building activity

Downtown Dayton office activity was hopping this year. CareSource's new office building opened this spring and 450 employees moved in. The six-story center is the first new office building to open in downtown Dayton in 10 years.

Stratacache purchased Kettering Tower in February for $13 million and renamed downtown Dayton's tallest building Stratacache Tower, with it serving as the company's new headquarters.

RELATED: A 30-second reign of terror: Videos, reports show how the Oregon District mass shooting unfolded

Arkham Ventures Inc. — the company’s real estate acquisition arm — also bought Courthouse Plaza at 10 N. Ludlow St. across from Dayton city hall.

New Troy hospital

Kettering Health Network opened a hospital in Troy in June, making Miami County once again home to two hospitals 20 years after Piqua Memorial and Stouder Memorial closed and consolidated their services to become Upper Valley Medical Center.

The 135,000-square-foot, three-story hospital has 28 inpatient beds, including four intensive care unit beds, as well as an emergency department, intensive care, lab and imaging, cardiac testing, surgery and a medical office building for physician practices.

Wright State University strike

Wright State University professors had a 20 day walk out which ended in February after a deal was reached with the administration. It was thought to be the longest faculty union strike in Ohio's history.'

Ending the strike was the “last big hurdle that existed from the past,” the former board president said and then-president Cheryl Schrader has also said she saw faculty union contract talks as the last major issue she inherited upon becoming Wright State’s president in 2017.

Major expansions

Several long time Dayton manufacturers embarked on major expansions this year.

Food and restaurant equipment producer Henny Penny Corp. is expanding its giant manufacturing facility by 150,000 square feet in Preble County and will add 70 new jobs.

Crown Equipment worked on a $130 million expansion in New Bremen, so the lift truck maker could have more space for parts and finished goods. The investment includes $40 million in construction and $90 million in new equipment.

Strong home sales

While the final numbers aren’t in, this year is on track to be another strong year for Dayton home sales. Home sales are an important economic metric pointing to how confident and financially secure local families are.

In early December, Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith said in his annual property update that the robust real estate market will help soften the blow of the nearly $2 million shortfall that the Memorial Day tornadoes left for property tax revenue.

The average home sales price for November 2019 was $180,881 and median price was $155,000. These figures were up 9% and 12%, respectively, compared to November 2018, according to Dayton Realtors, which represents Montgomery, Greene, Darke, Warren, and Preble counties.

Through November, Dayton Realtors reported 15,265 transactions, flat from last year and $2.7 billion in total sales volume, up 7% from 2018’s $2.5 billion.

Wright-Patterson first time above 30,000 employees

For the first time in 30 years, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employs more than 30,000 people and leaders expect its personnel to grow even more in the coming years. And before 1989, Wright-Patt hadn't employed more than 30,000 since 1964.

The growth can be attributed to additional military funding that is being directed primarily to research and development. More research money is a good thing for Wright-Patt, since it’s home to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

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