From the Newark Advocate
The business development, to many Licking Countians, appears as some distant, nondescript buildings visible from Ohio 161, north of the Beech Road interchange.
The growing New Albany Personal Care and Beauty Campus might not yet make a striking visual appearance, but it must look beautiful to job-seekers, economic development experts and the eight companies in operation or soon to be up and running in new facilities.
Three companies have started production in the Licking County campus that is part of the massive New Albany Business Park, located mostly in Franklin County.
The eight companies eventually will employ almost 1,500 workers and will occupy more than 1.4 million square feet of new manufacturing space.
Joe Devine, area manufacturing manager for Sonoco, a global packaging company based in Hartsville, S.C., said The Limited wanted its suppliers in one industrial park.
“We’ve done business with The Limited a number of years,” Devine said. “This was an opportunity to cement the relationship and grow the business, and we’re lucky to be chosen.
“Opportunities come and go, and when you can quickly jump on an opportunity before they disappear, the better off you are.”
Bringing all companies in a supply chain to one location improves the speed in getting products to market, Devine said.
Ted M. Goldberg, vice president of business development for Alene Candles, said job grants and credits were among the reasons the company chose to come to New Albany.
“There were a number of factors leading to our decision,” Goldberg said. “We have a large facility in New Hampshire we’re completely committed to, and enlarged the facility. And we still need additional space. We needed a plan to expand our operation in the Midwest, more centrally located.”
Alene Candles, a contract manufacturer of custom-designed, fragranced candles for the gift, cosmetic and retail markets, makes products for all divisions of The Limited, but primarily Bath and Body Works, Goldberg said.
Jerry Newton, director of the Licking County Planning Commission, said such a planned business development was common 30 or 40 years ago, but not so much in recent years.
“Business and industry have not been doing this amount of co-location we’re seeing at that location,” Newton said. “It signals the change of business, in how business is going to be occurring in light of all the globalization.”
New Albany has capitalized on the decisions of many companies to end their China experiment and come back to America, Newton said.
“It’s wonderful to hear of any business coming in,” Newton said. “These are the types of business and development, as a county, we’re happy to be involved in.”
Newton said improvements might be needed to Beech Road north of Ohio 161, especially to the dogleg on Beech Road, north of Smith’s Mill Road nearing Jug Street.
“We need to continue with a very positive business attitude and make sure the infrastructure keeps pace,” Newton said. “The township trustees and the city (of New Albany) are getting together and talking about doing things together they weren’t doing before.”
Although Ohio has an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, filling some of the highly skilled positions can still be difficult, said Windy Murphy, job specialist with the Licking County Department of Job and Family Services.
“The jobs have definitely picked up, but there are still positions that go unfilled because they’re looking for a specific skill set,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the department has prescreened more than 400 applicants for Sonoco, which is hiring mechanics, operators and quality control workers.
“With the overall economy, you’d think the labor pool would be pretty deep, but we’re looking for a certain skill set, so we’re being pretty selective at this time,” Devine said.
Murphy encourages Licking Countians to apply for the positions and not fear the commute, which is only about 20 minutes from Newark.
“People will bring up that ‘I don’t want to drive that far,'” Murphy said. “It’s not that far of a drive. People tend to think it’s 45 minutes to an hour to get there.”