600 jobs coming to downtown Dayton; businesses get ready

Taylor Communications in October is expected to start moving nearly 600 workers into an underutilized downtown office tower, which local shops, restaurants and residential property owners hope will be a boon.

The city of Dayton on Wednesday approved a $1 million development agreement with Taylor — formerly Standard Register — to help fund the renovation of the building at 111 W. First St. so the company can relocate employees from its current home on Albany Street on Dayton’s west side.

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The company has agreed to lease space in the building for at least 10 years and has committed to retaining at least 500 employees through 2023.

Some business owners and apartment operators rejoiced when Taylor announced its upcoming move, believing that some of the new downtown workers will become customers or tenants.

“It is very good news for us,” said Todd Evans, property manager at the Landing, the apartment complex and high-rise building located on West Monument Avenue, just north of Taylor’s new home. “People love to live and work and play all in the same location.”

Dayton commission’s $1 million agreement includes $500,000 from the Montgomery County ED/GE program. The project is expected to be finished by June 2018, according to city documents.

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As part of the agreement, Taylor says it will spend at least $2.4 million on facility improvements, equipment and other items so it can occupy about 130,000 square feet of space in the office tower, spread across about eight floors. Taylor will maintain a presence at its campus in West Dayton.

In exchange for the city’s support, Taylor has agreed to pay at least $500,000 annually in wage withholding taxes through 2023.

“This is really important because we were in danger of losing them, not only to outside of the city, but outside of Montgomery County,” said Ford Weber, Dayton’s director of economic development. “They could have left the state.”

Taylor has a century-long legacy in the area and is pleased to continue the heritage in Dayton of “innovation, thought leadership and manufacturing presence,” said Mark Keeton, general manager of promotional marketing at Taylor.

“We did consider relocation, however, there is a strong tie, an emotional connection and a sense of responsibility to Dayton,” Keeton said.

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Taylor’s decision to relocate hundreds of workers downtown will have a major impact on downtown’s small businesses, such as restaurants, brew pubs and service providers, said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Most of the nearly 900 businesses downtown are small and locally owned, Gudorf said, and only 30 to 40 have more than 100 employees.

“When people work downtown, they visit our restaurants and our brew pubs and may be more in tune what’s happening downtown, at the Schuster or the Victoria Theatre,” she said.

Taylor will be neighbors with Buckeye Laptop, which is a computer and mobile device repair store that opened last year in the Talbott Tower at 133 N. Ludlow St.

Taylor’s move is good news for Buckeye Laptop and other local businesses, said Annette Sand, Buckeye’s marketing manager.

“We are feeling the upbeat energy of downtown’s rebirth and believe Taylor will have a significant impact on its rebirth,” she said.

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The most thriving downtowns have a strong mix of places to live, work and recreate, and downtown Dayton is developing an interesting and healthy blend of these components, local officials said.

The downtown area, which includes Webster Station, is home to about 21,000 jobs, according to the downtown partnership, which says it is tracking 645 new jobs, including Taylor’s commitment. Downtown housing has been booming.

Evans, the property manager, said people increasingly want to live close to where they work, and he expects the Landing will appeal to some Taylor employees.

The Landing, he said, already has tenants who work for the city of Dayton and CareSource, which both have their headquarters a short walk away.

Nearly 8 percent of workers who live in the 45402 zip code — which covers most of downtown and some of the city’s west side — walk or bike to their jobs, according to 2015 Census survey data.

“For that part of downtown, it’s going to have a big impact,” Weber said.

And Taylor’s job move may be just the tip of the iceberg.

CareSource is building a six-story office tower a couple of blocks east on First Street that will house hundreds of employees, including some new positions. The building is expected to open in spring 2019.

The Dayton Arcade, after sitting empty for about 27 years, could possibly be rehabbed into a mixed-use development that could would house hundreds of jobs and possibly 150 businesses.

Bill Struever, a development partner on the Arcade project, said the complex’s redevelopment would be catalytic and would spark new investment downtown that realistically could create 10,000 new jobs in the next five to 10 years.

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