City Notes: Bakery's investment in Whitehall helps fiscal uncertainty go down easier

ZACH WOODRUFF
Zach Woodruff

At a time when so much of our local economy is dependent on the strength of our business community, local governments are feeling the economic hit of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Each sector has responded differently, but we're already anticipating the financial impact of temporary and permanent closures, teleworking and other shifts in business models.

For Whitehall, which was finally starting to enjoy the fruits of our labor to attract and retain major employers over the last decade, this makes our financial position into the future nearly impossible to predict. While federal and regional relief will help some of those businesses make it through this crisis, it is essential to Whitehall's continued success to attract businesses that have been able to adapt through this crisis, and that were able retain and hire employees when others were forced to downsize.

One saving grace in this new normal of unpredictability is that a long-time cornerstone of our economic-development strategy has been to diversify our range of employers, attracting businesses of all sizes and across all sectors, from production, to manufacturing, to logistics, to technology, to services and otherwise. This aspect of our strategy is very important to Whitehall's recovery from the economic impact of COVID-19.

This is one of many reasons why the city is excited to welcome Cerelia Bakery to our business mix at the Airport South Commerce & Tech Park. Cerelia, which employees more than 1,400 people internationally, is taking over the vacant parcel that once was home to a grocery warehouse, replacing the unusable structure with a new 160,000-square-foot facility and investing more than $29 million into the facility, equipment, training and employees.

The ripple effects of this redevelopment, especially during COVID-19, are far-reaching, from supporting the construction industry to bringing more vitality to a growing commercial park, adding 80 jobs to Whitehall with 40 more completely new jobs in the works.

We are grateful to our partners, both at the state and local level, who helped to retain Cerelia in central Ohio, illustrating the opportunity that is here in Whitehall to an international audience.

Zach Woodruff is director of development and public service for Whitehall.