Although the size and scale of new companies moving into the New Albany International Business Park tend to attract the most attention, one of the city’s greatest success stories is its ability to retain businesses and encourage expansion.

Since 1998, investment in the business park has increased to $4.6 billion and employment has grown to 15,700, fueled by robust investment from new companies and existing ones.

One reason is that when businesses invest in our city, they know their investment will be protected for the long term because in the business park, as well as throughout the city, the city’s master plan ensures that development preserves natural features while promoting high-quality design and construction.

Planning also prioritizes services and amenities that enhance quality of life for companies eager to attract and retain a skilled talent pool in a highly competitive job market, including versatile residential choices, restaurants, cafes and shops, 45-plus miles of leisure trails and a state-of-the-art health and wellness center.

Discover Financial Services, one of first companies to commit to the business park, since has added a $70 million data center.

After building its operations center here, American Electric Power invested more than $19 million to complete a 195,000-square-foot transmission headquarters.

Aetna, which moved 500 employees to the park in 2000, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar expansion that will double its workforce.

Facebook, which invested $750 million in two new data center buildings in 2018, already is constructing a third valued at $500 million.

Following a nationwide search, Post Consumer Brands decided to keep its newly acquired Bob Evans prepared-foods division here.

After building its international headquarters on a wooded 500-acre campus, Abercrombie & Fitch added a $170 million distribution center, thanks to the park’s four highway interchanges and enviable location within a 10-hour drive of 46% of the population.

Pharmaceutical manufacturer American Regent has more than doubled its initial square footage with a new $75 million building.

The New Albany Community Development Department offers a variety of digital communications to help companies provide information to employees about everything from upcoming programs and events to sports leagues and the latest restaurants and cafes. An employer/employee onboarding kit offers a print directory with detailed information about the community. An online version offers access to even more. The city’s business website, newalbanybusiness.org, also enables employers to post jobs and look for additional sites.

Technology and shovel-ready sites, robust fiber optics and triple-feed electric capabilities make expansion decisions even easier. Easy access to decision makers, prompt attention to needs, streamlined planning and fast-track permitting help build loyalty among employers.

New Albany’s innovation clusters – Personal Care and Beauty, Information Technology and Mission Critical, Corporate Office and R&D, High-Tech Manufacturing and Logistics and Healthcare – have proven effective at retaining companies and spurring expansion in an environment that keeps pace with energy, technology and logistics needs, while also encouraging collaboration. For example, Axium Plastics, which moved into the beauty campus in 2012, built its second facility on the campus only six years later.

Attracting new businesses often involves setting expectations and articulating a vision. Corporate expansion demonstrates how New Albany consistently fulfills its promises by anticipating what businesses need to succeed and then delivering.

Jennifer Chrysler is New Albany’s community-development director.