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Five companies take home James A. Wuenker Growth Award for regional impact

Each year, REDI Cincinnati presents Growth Awards to companies nominated by their local economic development partners in recognition of significant impact on job growth and capital investment in the community. The award honors James A. “Jim” Wuenker, a prolific regional economic developer whose landmark projects include the Fidelity Investments campus in Covington, Harris Corp. in Warren County, Miller Brewing in Butler County, Avon Products in Hamilton County, and Henkel Corp.’s Cincinnati-based U.S. headquarters. Meet this year’s five Growth Award winners. 

At its March 21 Annual Meeting, REDI Cincinnati presented Growth Awards to 80 Acres Farms, Ensemble Health Partners, Festo, L3 Technologies, and Magna Machine Company. Combined, these companies created 1,641 new jobs and contributed nearly $150M in capital investment to the three-state, 16-county Greater Cincinnati region. 

“We’re proud to pay tribute to Jim Wuenker and his legacy with this award,” said REDI Cincinnati President and CEO Kimm Lauterbach. “The winners embody Greater Cincinnati’s spirit of collaboration, and we look forward to sharing their continued success in the coming years.” 

80 Acres Farms plants roots in new vision for Hamilton

Cincinnati-based 80 Acres Farms will soon expand its regional presence to include two new facilities in the fast-growing city of Hamilton. The historic preservation project will yield office space and a fully automated indoor farming operation featuring three floors of tomatoes and vine crops — the first of its kind in the nation. Combined, the project will bring 46 new jobs and a capital investment of $37.5MM to downtown Hamilton and Hamilton Enterprise Park.

“This will allow us to get better, fresher food to more mouths,” said 80 Acres VP of Creative & Marketing Rebecca Haders. “That’s been the mission since we started, and it won’t change.” 80 Acres CEO Mike Zelkind credited Hamilton elected officials — who nominated the company for the award — and the local business community with helping bring the project to fruition. 

Ensemble Health Partners renovates former P&G space, adds 1,000 new jobs

City of Blue Ash Economic Development Director Neil Hensley and HCDC Vice President Harry Blanton submitted the Growth Award nomination for Ensemble Health Partners, recognizing the company’s recently announced plans to re-use and renovate an existing 350,000-square-foot office building formerly occupied by Procter & Gamble. 

The project, which will result in a capital investment of $20MM and 1,000 new jobs, will also prompt significant infrastructure improvements along Blue Ash’s Reed Hartman Highway and could pave the way for redevelopment of another nearby facility. 

“In order to continue expanding our support of American healthcare we sought a new, state-of-the are campus to house our amazing staff,” said Ensemble President and COO Shannon White. “Blue Ash’s commitment to Ensemble’s growth played a large role (in site selection), as well as the availability of our new location. We have the ability to grow within this location beyond our initial projections.”

Festo announces plans to nearly triple its Mason footprint

After a successful collaboration of resources between the City of Mason, REDI Cincinnati, JobsOhio, Duke Energy, and Warren County, the Festo location in Mason won 25 percent of the company’s total global investment allocation — funds it will use to strategically expand the Mason campus it has occupied since 2013. 

All told, Festo’s multi-phase plan includes a $60MM real estate investment and $10-15MM in furniture, fixture, and equipment. The expansion will add approximately 240,000 square feet onto the company’s existing 160,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. 

“Projects such as this not only create meaningful jobs and investment, but also advance foreign direct investment visibility of the Cincinnati region and strengthen the existing advanced manufacturing portfolio across the state,” said Mason Economic Development Director Michele Blair, who nominated Festo for the award.

Magna Machine Company to acquire and expand to former North Pointe Shopping Center

Magna Machine Company has announced a sixth expansion of its Forest Park location, where, since 1985, the family-owned company has built, repaired, and re-manufactured industrial machinery for a wide range of industries. This time, the company will invest $3.7MM to acquire, renovate, and expand into a mostly vacant shopping center across the street from its existing facility. 

The project will call for 20 new jobs, with 125 jobs retained in the expansion. 

“We’ve had a long relationship with (nominating City of Forest Park Economic Development Director) Paul Brehm,” said President and Owner Scott Kramer. “This project is something we’ve talked about three or four times over the last 10 years, but the conversation got serious recently because of our immediate need.” In the summer of 2017, Magna learned the Woodlawn facility they’d been renting from a sister company would soon be unavailable. 

“The city helped us negotiate a fair price for the old retail center and get it converted to industrial. They even bought back a portion of nine acres to create a green space,” said Kramer. “All those contacts have been around for a long time, and it’s nice to know that they have similar interests when it comes to supporting families in the local area. We can always call them up when we have an idea or need their help.”