Foresight, thoughtful planning and a holistic sense of community have guided the development of New Albany for more than two decades.
“Our master plan is a public-private partnership that brings to life our guiding principles of what a community should be. It’s a blueprint that focuses on the concepts of lifelong learning, arts and culture, the environment, and health and wellness,” says William Ebbing, president of the New Albany Company. The real estate development company was founded by L Brands Chairman and CEO Les Wexner and his friend and business partner Jack Kessler, a central Ohio developer.
The evidence of such planning is seen everywhere in New Albany, including the New Albany International Business Park. As Ohio’s largest master-planned corporate business park, it is designed to inspire creativity, discovery and commerce.
“The land-use decisions we make every day must support the master plan concepts. That’s how our business park emerged and why it’s so different from those in other communities,” says Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany’s director of community development.
The business park encompasses 3,600 acres, of which 1,800 are developed. Seven million square feet of space is built or under construction. Nearly 15,000 employees of 40-plus enterprises report to work at the business park.
That degree of success demonstrates how well New Albany collaborates with a host of organizations: its school district, area chambers of commerce, JobsOhio, TechColumbus and Columbus 2020 to name but a few. The cooperation, trust and mutual respect between the parties has grown as New Albany has grown.
“We can attract more businesses which, in turn, employ more people and produce more products. It’s a true collaboration. The business park, like every other piece in the master plan, works in concert with each other to create a top-notch quality of life,” says Thomas Rubey, vice president of the New Albany Company.
New Albany International Business Park
New Albany is rightfully proud of its reputation of being a help, not a hindrance, to companies who choose to locate in its business park. “We’re very aggressive in hitting timetables. We’ve expedited our development process and changed our laws to help companies locate here as quickly and painlessly as possible, all without sacrificing what’s legally required, our community standards and quality of life,” says Mayor Nancy Ferguson.
“We say New Albany works at the speed of business, not the speed of government,” adds Chrysler.
Residents understand the value of bringing businesses to New Albany. “About 75 to 80 percent of our general revenue comes from the income tax on our businesses, and the business park is a large part of that. It helps the city provide a lot of services not only to our businesses, but also to our residents, that we probably couldn’t afford to do otherwise,” Ferguson says.
The business park’s concentration of use has led to the development of clusters of companies. “Our innovation campuses are focused on information and technology, healthcare, and the beauty and personal care industries. We’re also attracting businesses who are locating in our corporate headquarters and research and development campus,” Ebbing says.
These national and multinational firms create synergy from their similar energy and security concerns, complimentary capabilities and shared supply chains.
The business park offers the requisite shovel-ready commercial sites with streets, lighting and New Albany’s signature white fence. But it is the infrastructure that gets the attention of developers.
American Electric Power installed dual-feed electric capabilities when it sited its own mission critical data center there in 2008. The redundant electric service is fed by two underground lines from separate substations, making the business park a stable, secure and high performing commercial location.
AEP also manages New Albany Net, the city-owned 96-strand high speed fiber optic network that serves the business park. WoW! Internet, Cable and Phone provides the broadband connectivity.
Three state highway exchanges make it easy to enter and exit the business park. Port Columbus International Airport is a 15-minute drive away, while Rickenbacker International Port Authority, a cargo-dedicated airport featuring a foreign trade zone, is about 30 minutes away. Three major railroads serve central Ohio and move goods in and out with ease.
“New Albany is within 500 miles of more than 50 percent of North America’s population. Companies take note of that,” Ebbing says.
Central Ohio’s skilled workforce is highly sought after and is frequently cited as a reason for locating in New Albany. To expand the number of potential business park employees, the Central Ohio Transit Authority will offer an extensive new bus route and shuttle network beginning in September 2014. New Albany also is working with area technical colleges and universities to create certification and educational programs tailored to the business park’s innovation campus sectors. “Companies will have a pipeline of job candidates and students will have a real world place to train,” Chrysler says.
The business park isn’t all about work, though. Employees find the green spaces to be a respite. “Our running and biking trails go right through the business park, connecting it to the restaurants, shops and library in our downtown,” Chrysler says.
Information and Technology Innovation Campus
New Albany is attracting information technology firms on two fronts. “Some locate their mission critical facilities here and others (are) locating their call centers or operations centers here. Redundant and robust infrastructure is a must for them,” Ebbing says.
Discover Financial Services built both types of facilities at the Information and Technology Innovation Campus.
“Discover was a vote of confidence for us. The business park was just a cornfield when we initially talked with them in 1997. No utilities. No roads. Just a vision,” Ebbing says.
Director of card member services Dana Blakeman says Discover has had a long- standing relationship with Ohio since 1985. “At that time we had two call centers. In 2000, we began our relationship with New Albany and consolidated them,” she says. Discover’s 325,000 square-foot operations center employs nearly 1,600 workers.
Ohio was in the mix again when Discover began exploring sites for its data center in 2012. New Albany won the bid. That 97,000-square-foot facility opened in 2013. “Our New Albany call center is one of several across the country, but our data center provides enterprise-wide support,” Blakeman says.
“New Albany is already a data cen- ter hub that understands the industry’s changing business climate. They understand that the infrastructure, support and skill set we need differ from other industries, and the business park is built accordingly,” Blakeman says.
Discover’s decision took into account more than a building site, though. “The relationship we have with New Albany is the difference. They reached out to us as a partner and were extremely attentive during both projects. And they share Dis- cover’s core values of collaboration and respect,” Blakeman says.
Healthcare Innovation Campus
Healthcare-related institutions also are choosing the business park.
Mount Carmel New Albany provides orthopedic, neurologic and musculoskeletal care for inpatients and outpatients. It opened in 2003 and expanded in 2010. The 130,000-square-foot facility features eight operating rooms and 60 patient rooms. Not surprisingly, associated medical offices have been built around it.
In 2013, PharmaForce, Inc. added to its Hilliard and Worthington operations when it built an 81,000-square-foot facility in New Albany.
“We’re a sterile pharmaceutical research and development and manufacturing com- pany. The business park houses our corporate administrative offices, research and development laboratories and a manufacturing plant. Our New Albany plant isn’t an approved commercial manufacturing facility yet, but we hope to have FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval in early 2015,” says Stephanie Glover, senior manager, operations support.
PharmaForce took many factors into consideration during the site selection process. “What really made New Albany stand out for us is its forward-thinking approach. There’s an attitude of ‘what’s next’ that is a different way of thinking from other communities,” Glover says. “Since we’ve been in business here, New Albany has been very supportive and fully engaged in making sure we have what we need to be successful.”
International Personal Care and Beauty Campus
This highly-integrated supply chain hub supports companies which contract with major brands of cosmetic and personal care products. The businesses benefit from complementary capabilities, common supply chain contractors and creative synergies.
“We call it the international beauty campus because the companies are headquartered in Canada, China, Great Britain and Mexico, in addition to several states. For many of them, New Albany is their first location in Ohio,” Ebbing says.
These firms are part of the vertical supply chain and represent various aspects of the manufacturing process. “At the business park, they can send a product 1.6 miles and in less than 10 days it goes from an idea to the retailer’s shelf. It’s amazing how they work together to better serve their end customers,” Ebbing says.
Anomatic Corporation manufactures and assembles anodized aluminum components, such as perfume caps, razor handles and mascara tops.
“We needed to expand our anodizing capacity, because we ran out room at our Newark facility,” says President Scott Rusch. “We learned that New Albany was attracting a group of companies that supply materials to the beauty industry. We were excited about the prospect of bringing key suppliers together.”
In 2012, Anomatic moved into a 75,000-square-foot facility that also houses its Innovation and Design Center.
“Locating multiple suppliers at the same site adds to efficiency, speed to market and makes sense economically,” Rusch says. “I’m not aware of any other place in the world that has this level of collaboration. I fully expect more companies to come here and continue to round out the capabilities in the personal care and cosmetic packaging industry.”
Also in 2012, KDC/Tri-Tech Lab opened the doors to its 200,000-square-foot facility. It manufactures soaps, sanitizers and fragrance products. The Canadian company was searching for a centrally located American site when it learned of New Albany. “The concept of an agile, integrated supply chain is unique and was a major attraction. We wanted to be part of it,” says Ian Kalinosky, division president of KDC Columbus and KDC Lynchburg.
KDC’s New Albany operation is focused on growth. “We’ve had two successful years and our ability to expand here is significant. It’s very exciting,” Kalinosky says. The company is benefiting from interaction with its business park neighbors. “We collaborate on potential new customer opportunities, new products and now we’re starting to address workforce development,” Kalinosky says. “It’s very unusual to find such willingness to work together on these types of issues.”
Corporate Headquarters and Research and Development Campus
In 1998, Aetna US Healthcare opened its regional operations center at the business park. “We committed to the development early on. New Albany has grown considerably since then, and so has our business,” says Nitin Bhargava, president of the insurer’s Ohio operations.
Aetna consolidated multiple Ohio offices to the New Albany site, and it continues to fold in additional acquisitions. The 210,000-square-foot building houses almost 1,100 people who work in claims, operations, customer service, sales and marketing, medical management and the executive offices.
Aetna was attracted to New Albany because of the development concept of the business park.
“We also like that it’s easy for employees and visitors to get in and out of our office. The location is close to areas where many of our employees live, and downtown Columbus is not far away,” Bhargava says.
Aetna also is committed to community involvement.
“New Albany is a hub of health and wellness causes that are a good fit for Aetna,” Bhargava says. “You can’t be in a community without being for the community.”
Lisa Hooker is a freelance writer.