SiteOhio: Making Development in Ohio Easier
Last week, the Central Ohio Chapter of NAIOP held an event focused on SiteOhio and the current development climate in the State of Ohio. SiteOhio, a program started in 2013 as a joint endeavor of JobsOhio and the seven economic development organizations across Ohio (including Columbus 2020), aims to help prospective entities find development-ready, certified land in Ohio. With other regions already certifying sites for development, this program will help Ohio compete as a prospective destination for these projects.
When initially started, the program had three main goals: identification, gap analysis, and education. However, as the program started gathering information, it was clear another benefit was emerging. SiteOhio’s database of available sites helped the organization understand inventory when a prospective business sends a Request for Information (RFI). Even though the sites may not be certified, they could very well meet the requirements of the inquiring businesses.
From there, SiteOhio established a qualification process, with the help of Insight Consulting, to identify criteria that is important to the end user and provides a more offensive approach to site certification, rather than reacting to RFIs when they are submitted.
They anticipated approximately 150 sites to be submitted for certification—but over 400 sites were submitted! Of these sites, 336 sites met the qualifications. From there, further review was necessary, so the sites were divided into three categories: Certification Ready, Pipeline, and Fatally Flawed.
Certification Ready – site is zoned properly, has a survey, has a Phase I and Phase II (if necessary) report, and is ready to be developed, including all utilities and community support
Pipeline – site does not entirely meet qualifications, but can be remedied relatively quickly.
Fatally Flawed - site requires significant improvements to receive the “Certification Ready” grade. This may include utilities being run to the site, zoning issues, and other setbacks.
No sites were deemed certification ready, but 28 were identified as being very close and with some guidance could be certification ready with minimal work. SiteOhio will work hand-in-hand with these 28 sites to get them certified and is hoping to have 20 certified sites by August 2017.
The program will continue to update the database of information when new information becomes available for each site. They will also work with each site to ensure the reports and surveys remain up-to-date so site submission becomes a smoother process. While certification streamlines the process, it can’t always be obtained. Columbus 2020 and all the other economic development organizations across Ohio will continue to submit as many sites as they can to future businesses, but having certified sites allows the prospective organization to know the preliminary work is complete and the site is ready to be developed.
SiteOhio allows Ohio to be more competitive and provides distinct advantages to Ohio from an economic growth perspective. The certified sites will allow Ohio to be better marketed to a prospective business while the database will allow the economic development organizations to know the inventory of sites in their area and what improvements they may need to make. This information will continue to help bring businesses and jobs to Ohio and for Ohio based companies find land when they grow.
by DREW GATLIFF
Drew is a project manager at M+A and graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in architecture and environmental design. His favorite vacation spot is anywhere with good company and a few cold beers.