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How Mason became a magnet for high-tech companies

The City ofMasonis quickly becoming a magnet for high-tech companies.   Faced with challenging economic times and competition from neighboring cities, Mason decided to get creative to target these sectors:

  • Biohealth
  • Biohealth IT
  • Digital IT

Through a series of public-private partnerships dating back to 2006. the city is building a track record for attracting and retaining companies. Tri-Health now runs the wellness programming in the Mason Community Center and has doctor’s offices and a pharmacy on site.  The second partnership of its kind came nearly two years ago when AssureRx, a personalized medicine company, located its global headquarters inside the community center. Across the street it has its wet labs in the basement of city hall. Michele Blair is Mason’s Economic Development Director.

“This economy demands that the City of Mason leadership, in partnership with other companies, do something more creative and different to win projects.”

The Idea

In May the city got even more creative when faced with the possibility of losing a rapidly growing company that was on the verge of outgrowing its second building in three years. Top Gun Sales Performancefound a new building but it was a little out of reach financially, according to company president Steve Osborne.

“Enter the City of Mason where they helped us. With some short term loans and short term incentives to help us get in the building and up and running and our repayment of that was to create with them a vehicle by which they could attract other businesses, the business accelerator, known as the Mason Tech Center."  The Mason Tech Center is located at 5155 Financial Way along the Mason-Montgomery Rd. corridor.

Osborne offered the second floor to other companies as a business accelerator. He provides below market rates, collaboration with other tenants and lots of technology. In exchange Mason provided a $200,000 loan and another $200,000 that would generate $500,000 in added economic development resources. Osborne promises to stay in Mason and estimates his company will create 200 jobs in the next 5 years.

The Mason Tech Center is getting busier

Cloud Takeoffjust moved in to the Mason Tech Center. It’s a cloud based blueprint estimator for the commercial construction industry. CEO Phil Ogilby says, “For us, it enables us to come in to truly Class A office space and attract employee, kind of on par with the larger companies in the market and for us that’s been an advantage, plus the advantage of Mason as a community itself. It’s a family friendly area and people love to move their families here if they are given the right opportunities and we’re trying to create more of those opportunities.”

City Manager Eric Hansen knows through efforts like these it’s going to create opportunities. “The genius of this model is that those dollars we provide there then get used essentially as an incentive to bring other companies. So every dollar we invest we get that recycled as incentives for other companies to come to have a whole new investment.”

Connxus was the first business accelerator to move in the Mason Tech Center. It connects minority and women owned suppliers with corporate and government buyers. Sue Oswalt is COO. “We’re in the process of hiring right now and this open space we’re sitting in will have a lot of cubes in it very soon, so it’s easy to attract people here. One of the things we like about the location is we attract talent from the Cincinnati area and from the Dayton area.

Investments are paying dividends

Over the last 18 months Mason has announced over 140-million dollars in new investment within the target sectors of Biohealth, Biohealth IT and Digital IT and created 1400 new jobs.  City Manager Eric Hansen says, "If we wouldn’t have had the relationship that germinated over time, brought the creativity to it, there are lots of ways that this could have not worked. We could have left it on the floor and walked away.”

Hansen says the City of Mason success doesn’t go to a plan, but a mindset.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.