Middletown Offers Key Resources for Chemical
A strong cluster of chemical, polymer and energy companies have found a synergy in Middletown, Ohio — establishing an entire value chain fostering vibrant economic growth. These companies create a diversity of products, maintaining an ongoing emphasis on research and development, and serving customers around the world.
“Many of these interconnected businesses, suppliers and associated institutions were drawn to this area to help increase their own productivity and give them decisive, competitive advantages in their field,” says Denise Hamet, Middletown's director of economic development. “It's an important cluster not just for us, but also for the region and state.”
The chemical manufacturing cluster in Middletown provided some of the earliest activity in both the state and the region's economic recovery, notes Hamet. During the last five years, the City has seen nearly $740 million in business investment — a number based only on real estate purchases and machinery, and excludes new long-term leases. Several of these companies recently invested significant sums of money to expand, including Pilot Chemical, Air Products and Quaker Chemical. Now NTE — a Florida-based energy company — is investing $500 million for construction of their new power plant.
“We want to help these companies continue to prosper,” says Hamet. “So we are focused on partnering to support this cluster's requirements for workforce, transportation and other resources.” Those partnerships include tapping into business support resources at the state level; teaming up with regional economic development groups; and working with both local and state workforce training organizations.
Air Products serves customers in industrial, energy, technology and health care markets worldwide with a unique portfolio of atmospheric gases; process and specialty gases; performance materials; and equipment and services. Air Products recently completed an $80 million plant renovation.
Pilot Chemical creates products for various industry segments, including personal care, oil extraction, industrial cleaning and lubrication, household cleaning and more. They recently completed a $35 million plant renovation, adding rail spur and tanks.
Quaker Chemical is a global manufacturer of process chemicals, chemical specialties, services and technical expertise to industries, including steel, aluminum, automotive, mining, aerospace, tube and pipe, coatings and construction materials. Locally, they manufacture process fluids for the steel and metalworking Industry. The company recently completed a $20 million plant expansion.
Recent local efforts include:
- The City of Middletown's Economic Development Department recently hosted a forum for chemical manufacturers and related industries focusing on local and state resources that can help the industry grow.
- The Economic Development Department also hosted a “Ohio Means Jobs Forum” to help companies tap into the state's workforce resources.
- Cincinnati State Middletown has added a Chemical Operator's program to assist with training.
Like many other industries, these companies need strong logistics. Most of Middletown's chemical companies are located along one of its primary industrial corridors on Yankee Road. It's a corridor that recently grew with the addition of two companies new to the state — Metal Matic and Metal Coaters.
“It's a corridor that demands strong logistics to facilitate growth,” notes Hamet. “Transportation drives economic development.” That's why Middletown has secured federal transportation funding to improve the area's roadways, including Yankee Road. The $5.2 million Yankee Road improvement project will transform and extend the old, narrow, crooked road into a modern corridor. The City has also supported the Butler County Improvement District's grant request for funds to make additional improvements to the roadway and is moving forward with a $5.3 million project to reconstruct nearby Oxford State Road.
Middletown's strategic location is a huge selling point for new companies. Its front door is located on I-75 with easy access to four other interstates as well as multiple state routes. The City's strong logistics include access to two international airports as well as a general aviation airport; two rail lines; and access to river cargo via Port Cincinnati to the south — which is the fifth largest inland port in the U.S.
The area also offers ample opportunities for development with available acreage in prime interstate locations, industrial parks and the urban core for other chemical-related companies looking to locate here.
Add all that to the area's other strengths — including a strong industrial base, world-class companies and a business-friendly environment — and you've got a great location for fostering economic growth. “We value and support this industry,” says Hamet. “We know that a strong cluster can produce more jobs, stronger wage growth, increased entrepreneurial activity and more intellectual property. We want to help them achieve that and more.”