Westerville News & Public Opinion

City manager: Economic future is bright

The city has added or retained jobs with payroll totaling $183 million in the last three years


Westerville fared the economic downturn of the last five years better than many communities in the region and across the country, City Manager Dave Collinsworth told members of the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce last week. And more good news is on the horizon for the city, he said.

Collinsworth spoke at the chamber's quarterly luncheon Sept. 10.

Through its economic development efforts, the city brought in 2,352 jobs in the last three years and retained 679, Collinsworth said. The payroll for those jobs total $183 million.

"That, in this economy, is a significant achievement," he said.

With several big projects about to be undertaken, more economic development can be expected in the city, Collinsworth said.

With the first phase of South State Street improvements, which ran from the interchange at Interstate 270 to Huber Village Boulevard, nearly complete, the city is preparing to extend the improvements north through the Schrock Road intersection, Collinsworth said.

"It's to enhance that area for redevelopment as one of the oldest commercial areas in the city," he said.

Another project soon to be underway is the extension of Worthington Road to Polaris Parkway, with a north-south connector to County Line Road. The city expects to break ground on that project next year.

The $10-million project will make way for a private luxury apartment complex and office and retail space, Collinsworth said.

"We're pretty excited about this. This is a project we have significant investment in," Collinsworth said.

Another exciting development, Collinsworth said, is the purchase of 67 acres of the Altair Development at the southeast corner of Cleveland Avenue and Polaris Parkway.

Private development had halted on the site, and with the city taking control, Collinswoth said he expects to see the area developed with new offices and retail, with a full-service hotel at the core.

When the northwest portion of the city first began development 15 years ago, the city fronted a significant investment, installing $30 million worth of infrastructure.

As businesses moved in to the area, that investment has been recovered through tax dollars, Collinsworth said.

"That initiative has yielded a pretty significant return on investment," he said. "We have recouped all of that $30 million."

Collinsworth said he expects economic growth to continue with the help of city programs both new and old.

The 3-year-old Uptown facade improvement program has brought thousands of dollars of reinvestment in the Uptown area, Collinsworth said, and an Uptown plan that will help define a direction for the historic district soon should be complete.

Businesses expanding in or relocating to Westerville continue to take advantage of the city's loan program, Collinsworth said, and the electric division offers an energy efficiency program to help businesses save on electricity costs.

The WeConnect community data center also offers new opportunities to businesses that aren't available elsewhere in central Ohio, Collinsworth said.