Industrial park seeking new entrepreneurs

Thursday, June 18, 2009

By Ann Wishart

A tour through the empty office complex building at Newbury Business Park lights up a whole world of commercial opportunities for area businesspeople.

From the high-tech conference room with broadband access to a gym space with locker rooms to plenty of corner offices, the sprawling facility is ready for entrepreneurs.

Park co-owner Chuck White said while the current economy may be bad for large established businesses, but the climate is good for germinating start-up ventures--exactly the kind of tenant he and business partner Nancy White envision for the office complex at the corner of Routes 44 and 87.

Hard times seem to activate the entrepreneur in folks who have imagination and drive and, if they have been laid off, time to devote to a dream.

"People make the jump when they lose their jobs," Chuck White said.

White said many need a central location from which to launch a new business. Enterprises that are outgrowing their cocoons at home are also candidates for the start-up incubator.

"A lot of businesses operating out of garages and basements need office or conference space or a place to store merchandise or equipment," he added.

Due to the layout of the 13,000-square-foot building, it will be easy to accommodate the needs of a new venture, he said. There are several entrances and the building has provisions for installing various office suites.

The complex is not the only facility at the Newbury Business Park, although it is the largest space available for lease. The park consists of a total of 13 buildings and a few others have available space.

But the huge building, which was remodeled by Saint-Gobain Crystals before the major part of its business operation moved, has potential to be used for a wide variety of ventures.

"It's really laid out well," Nancy White said. "Some offices are partially furnished and that might come in handy. Someone could bring in a phone and a computer and just start working."

They have seen it happen time and again in the 11 years they have owned the property, she said. Small or start-up businesses move in, expand, then build their own facilities. Unity Rubber expanded at the park, and Saint Gobain, originally Bicron, ultimately had more than 280 employees. During good economic times, 400 workers were employed at the complex, Chuck White said.

Another aspect of the park will benefit larger businesses in tough economic times, because the park is a good place to downsize, Nancy White added.

Besides offices and storage space, the park has new private sewer and water systems which comply with the same requirements the state puts on villages. And the campus has access to high-speed cable. Much of the property is wired for 480 volts with three-phase electricity, he said.

Restrooms are wheelchair-accessible and meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. And the lobby at the southeast entrance is set for a remodeling.

Other ideas for possible businesses that Chuck White described include a live person phone answering service, record storage, a call center and an assembly line training center. He'd like to see someone set up a one-stop shop where a person could get advice and perhaps financing for a new business.

The park provides property insurance, water, sewer, snowplowing, landscaping and parking for no extra cost, which is often an added expense in other parks, he said.

Security is a strong point and the Dairy King, which is part of the complex, is within walking distance, Nancy White said.

"Sometimes employees have a picnic outside. It's a relaxed atmosphere," she added.

The complex has 150,000 square feet under roof. One 4,000-square-foot facility has a loading dock. A drive-in bay is part of another building that totals 3,100 square feet, Chuck said.

"A week from now (the office complex) could be totally full," he said. "We've had a fair amount of interest. Businesses here are growing - doubling and tripling their space."

Buckeye Chocolates and Bonitas International which makes lanyard jewelry have both expanded while at the park, they both said.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a distribution point in one building. Kinetico and North American Cast Stone started at the park and have since expanded--Kinetico to the center of Newbury and Cast Stone to Burton.

With plenty of variety available for clients, the pair said they are fairly confident that the office complex will fill soon, but they have some turnover at the rest of the business park and will work with clients to get them the best fit for their enterprise.

"This is the largest total rental facility in Geauga County," Chuck said.