Most communities have them: Prime locations for commercial or industrial development that sit idle, waiting for someone to redevelop them.
These underutilized properties, both land and buildings, sometimes remain unoccupied for years. This is primarily due to the cost of remediating and redeveloping them, which often exceeds their post-development market value, thus scaring away potential investors.
But in Ohio, help thankfully exists to bridge that financial gap and help create new jobs.
JobsOhio, a private nonprofit corporation that drives capital investment and job creation in Ohio, offers loans and grants through its revitalization program to companies that want to revitalize old buildings and brownfield sites. In other words, it’s a true Restoration Economy organization.
The loans and grants are available to projects that retain or create jobs, have funding gaps and/or address environmental risks. They can be used for a variety of purposes, including demolition, building renovation, environmental remediation, removal of asbestos and lead paint, and site preparation.
“This financial support we provide minimizes the risks for companies and accelerates the speed at which they can put sites back into productive use,” said Diana Rife, revitalization project manager at JobsOhio. “Revitalization projects typically retain or create at least 20 jobs at wages comparable with the local market. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to bring these properties back to life.”
Companies are attracted to underutilized properties for different reasons, according to Rife.
“These sites are usually prime locations for development because they’re in desirable or easily accessible locations. They often have an available workforce, and they usually have access to existing infrastructure assets like electricity, water and natural gas,” she said.
Since its launch in 2014, the revitalization program has had a significant impact on many communities across Ohio.
According to JobsOhio, it has invested $169 million in the program, putting dozens of empty, dilapidated buildings, brownfield sites and underutilized properties back into use, spurring $2 billion in capital investment and creating more than 5,000 jobs.
Some of the more recent recipients of revitalization funds include:
- Urban Renewables LLC, which prepared a large industrial site in Rittman for development. The site had been idle since a large paperboard mill closed in 2006;
- MadTree Brewing in Cincinnati, which turned a former paper plant into a 50,000-square-foot complex that features a brew house, laboratory, taproom and beer garden;
- ProMedica, a nonprofit health care organization, which turned a century-old steam plant into a state-of-the-art office along Toledo‘s downtown riverfront; and,
- Amazon, which built a fulfillment and distribution center on the site of a vacant shopping mall in northeastern Ohio. The North Randall facility will employ more than 2,000 people.
“The revitalization program is all about attracting capital investment and bringing jobs to Ohio communities,” Rife said. “It’s exciting to see these buildings and properties become productive, job-creating sites again.”
Featured photo (by Henryk Sadura via Adobe Stock) shows downtown Toledo, Ohio, taken from a redeveloped site across the Maumee River.