Mound Business Park’s new administrator shares long history with the site

Former Miamisburg Mayor Dick Church Jr. stands in city council chambers next to a bust of him. Church ended his seven-term run as mayor when he retired in December 2019. NICK BLIZZARD
Former Miamisburg Mayor Dick Church Jr. stands in city council chambers next to a bust of him. Church ended his seven-term run as mayor when he retired in December 2019. NICK BLIZZARD

Dick Church Jr. and Mound Business Park are extensively intertwined.

Church, a Miamisburg native, watched as a child in the mid-1940s as the U.S. government constructed its predecessor, nuclear weapons research facility Mound Laboratories. He toiled during the majority of his 28 years as the city’s mayor to secure $1.1 billion for site clean up after the U.S. Department of Energy decommissioned and closed the facility, then worked to reinvent it as a 306-acre business park.

Now, as the new administrator for Mound Development Corporation, the 79-year-old will work to further revitalize the business park by bringing new businesses there, creating jobs for the area.

“We want to keep that momentum going and bring businesses into the area,” said Church, who most recently served as a senior adviser to the corporation’s board. “It not only helps the city of Miamisburg, but it helps the entire Dayton region.”

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Mound Development Corporation last week announced it had welcomed Church to the new position at Mound Business Park, which has 16 companies and more than 400 employees. The move comes a little more than nine months after he voluntarily ended his time as mayor after 28 years in the role.

Church said his “hope and dream” as mayor was to bring 2,500 jobs to the site to make up for the job losses that occurred when operations ceased at Mound Laboratories, the city’s biggest employer.

“In my lifetime, I’ll never see 2,500 employees, but we’re gonna put a big dent in that, I hope,” he said.

Toward that goal, Mound Development Corporation at its most recent meeting also retained the services of Mark Fornes Realty to attract companies to the site.

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Of the business park’s 306 acres, 187 remain available, Church said. Marketing the site and its ample acreage is the greatest challenge facing the park and crucial for its growth, he said.

“It cost us just $10 when we bought it from the Department of Energy, so we can make some great deals on property,” Church said. “We have some beautiful sites that businesses can locate (to) and we have all the IT stuff already in place and we’re ready to go. We’re shovel-ready for development.”

Mound Development Corporation continues to work with the city of Miamisburg and its development department, the Dayton Development Coalition, the state of Ohio and Montgomery County to develop the site, he said.

Growing the site is “a win-win for everybody” because of the jobs it can create, Church said.

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With a majority of the buildings on the site sold to companies, the Mound Development Corporation did not need a full-time administrator, he said.

What it did need is some one with a vast amount of knowledge about the site, and Church, who said he’s “the only one left who knows what has occurred from Day One to the present,” fit that bill.

“It’s probably one of my biggest legacies in my 28 years as mayor,” he said.

Miamisburg City Manager Keith Johnson said in a release last week that Church “was a champion for the Mound’s future throughout his career and was an ongoing presence in D.C.” to advocate for the site.

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Church said he was first approached by Mount Development Corporation officials in June about coming out of retirement.

“When you’re the mayor and you work seven days a week attending things, going to public meetings, you’re just busy, and then when you retire, you’re at home watching TV and it was driving me crazy,” he said. “When they said ‘Would you be interested?,‘ I said ‘I sure would.’”

Church said because of his track record of investing between 50 and 60 hour a week for the part-time position as Miamisburg’s mayor, “they know they’re going to get more than part-time out of me” in the new role.

“Being a hometown boy, I love this community, I love what it stands for and where it’s going and the Mound’s part of that future picture carrying on the legacy that was started in the 40s,” he said.