Monday, December 11, 2000

West Chester aims to maintain boom

New development director is veteran

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — Melissa Koehler stands on a hotel roof nine stories above the booming Union Centre Boulevard surveying this community's prosperity and planning its future potential.

        As West Chester Township's new economic development director, Ms. Koehler likes what she sees from atop the new Marriott Hotel, which towers over more than a dozen new restaurants and businesses that have popped up at the Union Centre and Interstate 75 interchange.

        The interchange, which opened in 1998, has fueled an economic boom that is adding business wealth to an already affluent residential township.

        But it's the unseen that also pleases Ms. Koehler. The Butler County township's rapid growth is also tipping the balance of the ratio of tax burden away from residents and toward a larger portion of the township's businesses.

        “The purpose for a community existing is for the residents. My predominant responsibility is to recruit companies to West Chester that will bring a higher standard of living to the community,” said Ms. Koehler, who previously held a similar post with Mason in Warren County.

        Ms. Koehler said she hopes her 15-plus years of community and economic development experience will help Union Centre businesses continue their growth, as well as assisting other companies throughout the township, the fastest growing in Butler County.

        Since 1996, West Chester's Union Centre Boulevard development has brought more than $700 million in capital investment to the area and has created an estimated 6,000 jobs. Since the 1998 opening of the Union Centre interchange, more than 8 million square feet of business and office construction has been created or planned.

        Ms. Koehler was recently hired after five years of guiding Mason's business and residential boom in nearby Warren County. She was instrumental in helping Mason become Ohio's second-fastest growing city by attracting more than 40 new businesses there since she was hired in 1995.

        West Chester Township trustees, who oversee the township's annual operating budget of more than $31 million, were unanimous in voting to hire Ms. Koehler and their belief that she will be able to sustain the township's growth. Township Administrator David Gully said “we admire what they have done in Mason and obviously Mason is a good model for what we want to do here.”


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