Year in Review

The economy— Businesses choose to stay in village in 2011

YSI Incorporated

In March YSI Incorporated, Yellow Springs’ largest employer, announced its intention to seek a strategic partner to acquire both liquidity for several large YSI stockholders and more resources to enhance the company’s growth. In July ITT, a $11 billion international water and defense company, proposed to purchase YSI, and to spin it off as a subsidiary of a new publicly traded company, Xylem. In September, ITT purchased YSI for $210 million and announced that Ron Geis would replace YSI CEO Rick Omler. Xylem, which is headquartered in White Plains, N.Y., said that YSI would contiue to be headquartered in Yellow Springs, with operations likely to grow in the ­village.

YSI’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan was dissolved, and the YSI Foundation was overtaken by ITT board members.

Antioch College was one of YSI’s largest stock holders, whose efforts to reopen after being closed for two years benefitted from about $35 million in repurchased holdings. Ohio University held a slightly higher amount of YSI’s stock.

e-Health Data Solutions

After many months spent seriously considering moving out of town, in July e-Health Data Solutions finalized plans to move from the space it had outgrown at MillWorks and into a newly renovated space in the Creative Memories building on East Enon Road. In the spring eHDS initiated a search for a bigger space, and attempted to negotiate a lease with Creative Memories, whose space was too big and too open for the needs of the healthcare information business. When the two businesses could not reach a lease agreement, eHDS began making plans to move to an office space in Springfield.

Then in the late spring, the Village proposed a low-interest loan of up to $30,000 to incentivize Creative Memories to divide its office space to meet the needs of eHDS, and to lease the additional space to one or more potential businesses. The Village and Creative Memories agreed to the lease within several days of e-Health’s deadline for the space in Springfield, and e-Health ultimately decided to lease from Creative Memories. The business took occupancy in the renovated building in September.

Barr property

In the spring Home, Inc. and Buckeye Community Hope Foundation purchased an option to buy the Barr property from Friends Care Community, and in July the developers proposed to build senior apartments on the 1.6 acres on the corner of Xenia Avenue and Limestone Street. The project included 33 one- and two-bedroom units in a two-story building with a 37-space parking lot in the back. The $6.2 million project and land purchase are contingent on the acquisition of federal housing tax credit funding.

In October, Village Council approved the preliminary concept plans and rezoning of the proprerty so that Home, Inc. and Buckeye could apply for funding. A response from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency is expected in the spring.

Friends Care Community had decided in February to sell the Barr property after a three-year attempt to build its own 30-unit senior apartment building there. Friends had concluded that it was not financially feasible to utilize the property.

Friends builds new rehab center

In August Friends Care Community opened a $2.25 million rehabilitation wing on the Herman Street campus. The 14,000-square-foot wing was designed for short-term stays and outpatient rehabilitation care, with 16 private rooms, a therapy and fitness center, an Internet cafe and a dining area.

Friends raised $280,000 in community donations to support the project, intended to help patients recuperate from injuries, surgeries, strokes, heart attacks and other medical events.

Wright State health clinic

In September the Miami Township Trustees proposed that Wright State University donate part of the former clinic site on Xenia Avenue for the construction of a new fire station and Township office. The site had been vacant since 2009, when the university moved the Wright State Physicians Family Health Center to Greene Memorial Hospital and razed the clinic. The Village had been working with the university to maintain a medical center on the site, which the village had concluded was the best and highest use for the property at the corner of Xenia Avenue and Herman Street. However, in September Wright State leaders told the News that the clinic would not return, although they said they would consider the fire department proposal.

Vernay grows, adds wells

After a decade of falling revenues, Vernay Laboratories’ new President Ed Urquhardt oversaw a 35 percent overall increase in sales this year, which led the company to increase its manufacturing employees by about 10 percent.

In June, two new contaminant capture wells were installed at the site of the former Dayton Street plant as part of an interim clean-up measure Vernay and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed upon in the spring. The capture wells were added to increase the capture rate for the area east of the site, where several test wells continued to show contaminants hovering above the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for safe drinking water. Vernay and the EPA will continue to monitor the wells before proposing final corrective measures in the next few years.

Grinnell Mill B&B changes hands

In February Grinnell Mill B&B proprietor Donna McGovern was asked to leave the mill after she and the Miami Township Trustees, who own the building, could not agree on which party should pay the $5,000 in property taxes that both parties had recently discovered the property had been accumulating since 2008. The Township sued McGovern for refusal to pay the taxes, and McGovern countersued the Township for damanges and lost profits.

Over the summer, McGovern left the mill to operate the Glen House Bed and Breakfast on Grinnell Circle, and Jim Hammond and Randy Gifford (who had rehabilitated the mill to its present condition) stepped up to help keep the mill and its bed and breakfast open.

Cemex fined, refused quarry

In February Cemex, Inc. agreed to pay a $1.4 million fine for Clean Air Act violations committed at its cement plant off of Dayton-Yellow Springs Road in Fairborn. The fine was part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department regarding a plant modification Cemex completed without obtaining proper permits from the U.S. EPA. In addition to the penalty, Cemex planned to spend $2 million on emission control equipment to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide in the ozone in the local area.

In June Cemex requested that the Xenia Township Zoning Commission rezone 289 acres of company-owned land along Hyde Road from agricultural to mining, for the purpose of building a new quarry. After over 100 neighbors attended several township meetings to oppose the move, in November Xenia Township commission members denied the rezoning request.

Business and economic news

• Local band Mac and the Rockets held several raise the rent fundraisers in January and February to help keep CJ’s Southern Cookin’ in business in the former Kentucky Fried Chicken building. But CJ’s closed in the spring, and in November, building owners Don and Joan Bowling, from Bellbrook, opened their own Drive-Thru Buffet, featuring a diverse lunch and dinner spread from fried chicken to stuffed peppers and macaroni salads.

• In the spring the Yellow Springs Post Office reduced its retail hours as part of a nationwide effort by the U.S. Postal Service to cut costs by closing some post offices and consolidating functions among others. In September, the carriers who deliver mail in Yellow Springs moved to the Xenia Post Office, and one of the two local retail window clerks transferred to a different location. But the home delivery and business mail services continued, and the post office remained open for service Monday through Saturday.

• In June Connie and Jose Soto opened their handmade metal jewelry and spoon and fork art store, Artistic Silver, on Dayton Street. In October, the couple opened a second jewelry store, Twisted Tines, in the Xenia Avenue space formerly occupied by Hasser’s Barbershop.

• In June, Kyle Peterson opened Blokhedz, at 136 Dayton Street, retailing Lego sets, key chains and minifigures for kids and adults.

• Basho, Urban Handmade and members of Handmade Dayton put on the first Cyclops Fest on Saturday, Sept. 17, on the Bryan Center lawn in a show of support for area arts and crafts people competing with the mega-retailers and their imported wares.

• In the fall Wendy Copper and Doug Siegal opened Vigilant Eats with their first food product, Organic Superfood Oat-based Cereal, which can be found at the Emporium.

• In November Valorie Clagget opened Modern Salvage at 138 Dayton Street. The store sells used furniture and household goods.

• In December Meg and Steven Guyer spoke with the News about their new business, S and G Artisan Distillery, which they have opened at the MillWorks space to produce fruit-flavored schnapps.

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