Whether it’s the opening of Wal-Mart and Menards, infrastructure improvements, or local refineries investing billions in upgrades, Oregon and Northwood have seen their share of steady progress in the last decade.
The Millard Avenue Overpass and the State Route 2 road widening and overpass project helped businesses flourish in Oregon by improving access to their sites.
Over 20 years in the making, the Millard Avenue Overpass involved widening, relocating and reconstructing Millard Avenue. The $15 million bridge eliminates delays caused by the CSX and Conrail switching yard.
One of the most successful examples of a business that benefited from the overpass is Spartan Development, which leases space to light manufacturing and distribution companies. Spartan built its first facility in 2000. Since then, six more facilities have been constructed. Without the overpass, there would be no Spartan, according to Ed Harmon, president of the company.
The Millard overpass has also improved access to and from BP Products North America, Inc., on Cedar Point Road, by providing more flexibility for loading hours. Prior to the overpass, truck line ups would occur as drivers attempted to avoid the times when the railroads did their switching and had the crossings tied up.
State Rt. 2
With 21,000 vehicles going down Navarre Avenue daily, commercial development increased after the Ohio Department of Transportation completed the widening of State Route 2 (Navarre Avenue) in 2004 as well as an overpass to improve traffic safety. Wal-Mart, Gordon Food Service, and Tractor Supply were among the first businesses to locate off Navarre Avenue after the road was widened.
Other businesses followed, including Tim Horton’s, the National Bank of Oak Harbor, and the First Federal Bank. Council also rezoned property at Navarre Avenue and Lallendorf Road in hopes of attracting two big box stores.
The $28 million road widening project included an overpass that eliminated two at-grade railroad crossings and improved traffic flow for State Route 2, which is Oregon’s main commercial corridor, according to Paul Roman, Oregon’s acting administrator and director of public service.
In 2003, Oregon saw the start of the $9 million Seaman Road overpass project. Embankment and underground work, road and bridge work were completed that year. It is the third overpass that was built in Oregon.
The overpass was needed because trains delayed emergency services using Seaman Road, the most direct route between the city’s EMS and the center of the population. The overpass eliminated two at-grade railroad crossings, according to Roman.
“The improved infrastructure in Oregon has provided uninterrupted access via car, truck, and rail to our assets,” said Gary Thompson, president of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation. “These improvements opened up Cedar Point Industrial Park as a true choice for business investment. Moreover, the improvements have made traveling about our community easier for citizens by car, school bus, emergency vehicles, senior caravans, or any other means.”
In 2003, Oregon completed Phases 1 and 2 of its $18 million water treatment plant expansion. The project, which increased plant capacity from eight million gallons per day to 16 million gallons, was completed in five phases.
Funding for Phase 1, which totaled $3.8 million, came from a $620,000 Ohio Public Works Commission loan and grant, $670,000 from outside city customers, and $2.5 million from the city.
The city also kicked in $308,000 for water treatment plant security improvements, including increased lighting and the installation of a new security system.
Paul Roman, Oregon’s acting administrator and public service director, told The Press last week that the water treatment plant expansion project was needed to meet both existing and future water demand.
“Prior to the project (in the late 1990s), the city experienced many dry summers in which water demand exceeded water treatment capacity,” said Roman. “In order to meet the high water demand, the city would purchase water, at a surcharged rate, from Toledo to serve Oregon’s industrial area. At that time, Oregon could not entertain new industrial or commercial growth without the water plant expansion project.”
Other major infrastructure projects that had a major impact in Oregon in the last decade include:
• The $8 million Seaman and Stadium roads trunk sanitary sewer project, which eliminated hundreds of failing septic systems and several small wastewater package plants in both Oregon and Jerusalem Township’s Reno Beach and Howard Farms, according to Roman. The sanitary sewer district, established with the project, will eventually provide sanitary service to an area of 5,350 acres or 8.4 square miles within Oregon.
• The $2 million Oregon bikeway project, which consists of approximately eight miles of continuous bikeway or bikepath that will eventually connect the following destination points: Fassett Middle School, Starr Elementary School, Pearson Metropark, the municipal complex, Clay High School, James “Wes” Hancock Senior Center, James A. Haley Boardwalk, UT Lake Erie Research Center and Maumee Bay State park, according to Roman. The project is approximately 70 percent complete and is expected to be finished by 2013.
In 2003, Northwood installed new traffic lights at the intersection of Woodville and Lemoyne roads with help from a $114,050 Ohio Public Works Commission grant, the resurfacing of State Route 51 and State Route 579 at a cost of $911,600, and became more handicapped accessible with the installation of handicap curb ramps throughout the city.
Oregon maintains a solid manufacturing base with two major refineries, Sunoco and BP-Husky Refining LLC. The refineries provide for approximately 16 percent of the city’s overall income tax revenue. Both BP and Sunoco in the last decade have continued to invest in upgrading the refineries.
Gary Thompson, president of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation, said the refineries represent approximately $15 billion of annual economic impact and account for roughly 3,200 full-time jobs in a five county region.
In 2008, BP completed a $2.5 billion deal with Husky Energy to create an integrated North American oil sands business by means of two separate joint ventures, one of which entails Husky taking a 50 percent interest in BP’s Toledo refinery. The Toledo refinery will be expanded to process approximately 170,000 barrels per day of heavy oil and bitumen from the Sunrise field in Alberta, Canada. The multi-year project is still in the early design and engineering phase at the refinery.
BP-Husky earlier this month announced a major equipment upgrade to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the refinery by reducing energy consumption and lowering operating costs. The estimated $400 million investment, known as Reformer 3, will create, on average, an additional 200 temporary construction jobs over the next few years, totaling one million man hours.
At Sunoco’s refinery in 2008, employees worked to optimize refinery operations, which resulted in improved production of jet fuel and diesel fuel.
Sunoco continued to work on a project begun in 2006 that will enable the refinery to meet new environmental regulations. Approximately 500 contractors each day have worked on the project in tandem with refinery employees. The construction project reached the halfway point in August, 2008.
“Both refineries have completed major turnaround projects which kept many people working during a national recession,” said Thompson. “In particular, BP-Husky’s Reformer 3 project will keep an additional 200 people working through 2012.”
Sunoco’s Community Advisory Panel celebrated 10 years of active and successful community involvement in April, 2009.
Market conditions in the refining industry was challenging and volatile in 2009. Given the difficult market conditions, a greater focus was on becoming more cost-competitive.
“Many forget that the refineries are part of the energy sector, which is driving many of the opportunities in our national economy,” said Thompson. “I believe our local refineries will continue to have a major economic impact even as we green our national economy and energy policy because the expertise and infrastructure of energy comes together at the refinery. Oregon is even stronger in the energy sector because we are home to Toledo Edison’s Bay Shore Power Plant. Additionally, other energy assets in our immediate region which create opportunity include the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Oak Harbor; the Husky refinery in Lima, Ohio, and the Marathon refinery in Detroit,” he said.
In 2008, BP-Husky achieved its best safety and environmental performance since 1998.
The refinery had a 75 percent reduction in Days Away from Work and a 43 percent reduction in the OSHA recordables.
From an environmental standpoint, the refinery had a 74 percent reduction in uncontrolled releases. Since 2000, the refinery had a 42 percent reduction in regulated air emissions and 30 percent reduction in water emissions.
Last year, the company celebrated 100 years of being in business, and its refinery in Oregon celebrated 90 years in the business.
Spartan Development and Logan Creek Construction Company have successfully developed warehouse facilities for light manufacturing or distribution in Oregon, Northwood, and Toledo.
Spartan, according to Harmon, has constructed a total of seven buildings totaling 650,000-square-feet, with an investment of $20 million and 700 jobs.
After construction, Spartan leases space to companies looking for “shovel-ready” sites. Spartan’s success in attracting companies to the area has been considerable.
In 2008, the company completed a 125,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center for Fresenius, a medical care facility that moved 110 new employees to Oregon. Caraustar, the nation’s largest supplier of gypsum facing paper in North America, and the second largest manufacturer of convolute-wound and spiral-wound paper tubes and cores, accounts for 600 new jobs.
Last year, Spartan purchased the Bihn Construction building on Lallendorf Road to rehabilitate before leasing to a new company.
Harmon said there are 40,000-square-feet of warehouse space available.
To what does he attribute Spartan’s success over the years? A good working relationship with the local government, said Harmon.
“You have a good team that works with the developers to bring jobs and customers to the area,” he said.
“We have a total of 400,000-square-feet in Toledo, 100,000-square-feet in Northwood, and 80,000-square-feet at the Toledo Express Airport,” said Harmon.
Besides Ohio, Spartan built facilities in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Alabama, North and South Carolina and Florida, said Harmon.
Locally, Spartan is working on three projects, he said.
“Nothing committed to yet, but we’re optimistic we’ll get maybe one or two facilities – one in Oregon and one at the Toledo Express Airport. What we’ve tried to do is when a new client is available, we can show them facilities in Oregon, Northwood, and the airport. It depends on where they want to be working,” he said.
“Spartan has been successful because they have a fully-integrated approach to development and they understand how their product meets the needs of their clients,” said Gary Thompson, president of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation. “Spartan focuses on the business sectors where they can compete nationally – logistics and light manufacturing. Spartan has built a great relationship with the City of Oregon and takes a team approach to each client opportunity.”
Rieter Automotive North America started a three phase expansion of its facility on Lallendorf Road in 2000. About $3.5 million was spent by the company, with the creation of new jobs.
In 2007, Rieter, which manufactures fiber padding materials and molded acoustical products for autos, announced a $6 million expansion that added 100 jobs to the approximately 150 employees to meet demand from a new contract with a major automotive manufacturer.
Oregon council also approved a 10-year Community Reinvestment agreement with Rieter that provides real property tax abatement.
Rieter received an Ohio Job Creation tax credit estimated at a quarter of a million dollars, a business development grant of up to $150,000, and an Ohio investment training grant of $100,000.
Rieter also received incentives from Lucas County, Toledo Edison, and the Ohio Department of Development.
Total investment in the project included $5 million for machinery, and $1 million in building renovation that added a new office area onto the existing facility.
Last December, Thompson noted that Rieter plans another expansion of its Oregon production facility.
“It’s something we’re very excited about,” said Thompson. “The company has been aggressively pursuing additional work. In the short-term, there may be a couple of contracts that would add somewhere between 20-50 jobs. Long-term, because the company has pretty prudent financial management, and a lot of their competitors are filing for bankruptcy, they’re sitting pretty well to increase their market share. We’re just hoping their market share increases so more and more of that work can come to Oregon.”
In Northwood, Miller-Valentine constructed a 123,500-square-foot facility in 2001 in AccessPointe West adjacent to its first spec building, on the other side of I-75. The company leases commercial space.
In 2005, Oakley Industries, Inc., of Clinton Township, Michigan, leased 70,000-square-feet in Miller-Valentine for its auto supply plant, which makes automotive tires and wheels.
The company, which supplies parts mostly to the Big Three auto companies, received tax abatement from the city and created 55 jobs within its first three years of operation.
The $9.4 million project was a spin-off of DaimlerChrysler AG's Toledo assembly plant expansion.
Also that year, the Ohio Department of Development approved a $490,448 tax credit for Faurecia Interior Systems USA Inc. for a seven year term to establish a manufacturing facility in Northwood.
The company, a supplier of automobile interior systems, including seats, cockpits, door panels, acoustics and soft trim, front-end and exhaust systems, also leases space in the Miller-Valentine building. Navigational Business Systems (NBS), uses part of the building to store office furniture.
Faurecia's interior system assembly operation accommodates new North American OEM contracts to supply interior systems to Ohio and Michigan customers. The company selected the Northwood site over other locations within northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan to supply parts for the DaimlerChrysler AG as part of its $2 billion expansion.
The $3.75 million project created 95 jobs within the first three years of operation.
Menards and Wal-Mart were among the retail stores that opened in the Oregon and Northwood area in the previous decade.
Following several setbacks, Menards finally completed work on a new home improvement store at Curtice and Brown roads, with a grand opening in 2008.
The 27-acre site straddles the Oregon-Northwood border. The store was built in Oregon, while the outparcels and a road accessing the store off Curtice Road, are in Northwood.
There was some doubt as to whether the store would ever get approved by Northwood and Oregon, though each each city eventually hammered out a joint economic development agreement.
The site was picked because of its visibility from I-280, a major artery used daily by thousands of motorists. There are also other retailers nearby, such as Meijer.
The opening of the new I-280 Veterans Glass City Skyway Bridge also made the site attractive.
Costs to build the store, off I-280, had risen since 2004, when it was announced a store would be located at the site, briefly stalling the project. The increase was due to a requirement by the Ohio Department of Transportation for Menards to make upgrades at the I-280/Curtice Road interchange with the reconstruction of four ramps to comply with current design standards, installation of traffic signals at the ramps’ intersections with Curtice Road, the addition of turn lanes and a traffic signal at the Lemoyne Road/Curtice Road intersection. The estimated cost to make the improvements was originally $1 million, but jumped to $3 million in 2007.
On March 19, 2003, Wal-Mart held a grand opening of its new store on Navarre Avenue. The new retailer provided over 400 jobs representing $8.2 million in gross salary, with an expected $185,000 in tax revenue going into city coffers.
The store was drawn to the site due to the completion of the long awaited State Route 2 (Navarre Avenue) road widening project.
The store was expected to draw customers from surrounding communities, and help other businesses by increasing foot traffic in the community.
“Menards and Wal-Mart coming to Oregon has several significant impacts,” said Thompson. “First, many of the tax dollars that were leaving Lucas County for other shopping destinations are staying here. As employers, they provide a wide range of opportunities from entry-level to management jobs for citizens in the community. The success of these stores also demonstrates to other retailers that the eastern communities can support new retail development. Finally, I think the cities of Oregon and Northwood should be commended on the development of Menards and Meijer. In both cases, local government leaders worked to meet the needs of their constituencies and support the business investment in their community instead of becoming an obstacle to development.”