From Cornfields to Silicon Heartland: 25 Years of Collaboration

By Jennifer Chrysler, New Albany Director of Community Development

If one word could sum up the key driver for success at the New Albany International Business Park, it would be collaboration. It’s evident in the City’s strategic planning process that engages the entire community in cultivating a shared vision for the future to improve our quality of life and protect investment. It’s reflected in enduring public-private partnerships that yield one-of-a-kind assets, from the Heit Center for Healthy New Albany to robust, carrier-neutral fiber optics, that are critical to business recruitment. It’s underscored by the “all-hands-on-deck” approach to development that brings together City staff, company executives, private developers, construction companies, and utilities to streamline planning, fast-track permitting, and meet aggressive timelines that maximize return on investment.

It’s hard to imagine that it started in the late 1990s in a cornfield where City officials envisioned a strategically planned business park that promoted high-quality design and development within a connected community that embraced lifelong learning, the arts, health, and sustainability. Global retail brand, Abercrombie & Fitch, was among the first of several national companies to invest here creating a 400-acre corporate campus and an operation that would later include a logistics and distribution operation.

After 25 years, the New Albany International Business Park has become one of the most prolific economic development engines for the state and is home to the largest development project in Ohio’s history, Intel’s $28 billion+ chip manufacturing operation. Today, the City competes globally for business, attracting industry leaders that include Amgen, Pharmavite, Bath & Body Works, Axium, Amazon, Meta, and Google.

Six innovation clusters – Corporate Office and R&D, Information Technology & Mission Critical, Personal Care & Beauty, Health & Life Sciences, High Tech Manufacturing & Logistics, and Semiconductor Manufacturing – aggregate areas of expertise and foster collaboration among businesses. Its technology incubator, Innovate New Albany, supports the growth of entrepreneurs while helping the City diversify its economic base. The first of its kind in the nation, the Personal Care & Beauty Campus’s vertically integrated supply chain has revolutionized the way products go from concept, design, and development to packaging and shipping. As a result, Bath & Body Works now manufactures more than 60 percent of its products in New Albany.

To date, the business park has attracted $45 billion in private investment, encompasses 33 million square feet of commercial space, and employs 25,000. Tax revenue from the business park now generates 82 percent of New Albany’s general fund to support city services and amenities, including police protection, infrastructure, road maintenance, parks, and leisure trails.

Strategic planning allows New Albany to collaborate with residents and businesses to determine how those tax revenues are used. It guides the City in prioritizing community needs, evaluating public and private development, and prudently allocating revenue. Updated every five years, the plan addresses smart growth policies that include pedestrian-friendly amenities, connectivity, mixed-use environments, residential housing, parks and recreation, and sustainability.

New Albany has saved millions of dollars by leveraging public-private partnerships to promote business investment. A partnership between the City and the New Albany Community Foundation to create a vibrant work-life balance was instrumental in the development of the New Albany Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library that anchors Market Square, the pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development with restaurants, cafes, shops, and Rose Run Park. The foundation was instrumental in the development of the McCoy Center for the Arts which serves as a public performance venue for arts organizations and New Albany-Plain Local School students. A collaboration between the City, the nonprofit Healthy New Albany, the OSU Wexner Medical Center, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital led to the creation of the Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, a state-of-the-art health and wellness facility.

The City’s partnership with American Electric Power (AEP) led to critical technology advancements and competitive business advantages. The City to lease its advanced fiber-optic network from AEP instead of building its own. The deal saved the City millions and enabled it to offer New Albany Net, one of the fastest, most advanced fiber optic networks in the country. As AEP continued to build capacity for customers, the City and its businesses continued to benefit from the energy and reliability of AEP’s triple-feed electric capabilities and the nation’s largest in the nation which runs directly through the business park.

Today, the New Albany International Business Park is a thriving ecosystem that continues to revolve around collaboration and public-private partnerships that inspire the kind of creativity, discovery, and commerce that continues to fuel growth.