PIKETON, Ohio -- When Wastren Advantage, Inc., began startup operations in 2005, The Ohio State University Endeavor Center had just opened its doors as a training center and business incubator. Wastren was one of its first tenants.
"WAI was created as a subsidiary of an older, struggling company and needed a place for the new company to call home," said Steve Moore, CEO. The company capitalized on the center's services, drawing upon the skills of its staff, its multiple conference rooms and training spaces, and its business resources.
"We've been able to grow into a waste remediation company with almost $100 million in annual revenue," Moore said. "Compared to the 40 employees we had in 2005, today we employ almost 350 personnel working on six major contracts across the United States, and we're still growing strong."
The Endeavor Center likewise has grown and is now recognized as a hub of economic activity and business training in southern Ohio. Twenty business partners occupy the facility, fueling the economic engine of the region, said Jerry Driggs, manager of the center. Located on the campus of The Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon, the center's mission is to help new and emerging businesses grow and create high-tech, high-skill, high-wage jobs, and to demonstrate to the business partners housed in the center how a successful, growing business operates.
The center, which is part of both Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, is widely noted as a strategic resource for energy-related companies and has become a hub for projects under way at the Piketon Nuclear Enrichment facility.
The center contains approximately 20,000 square feet of office space in various configurations, ranging from offices fully apportioned with quality office furniture to industrial bays with advanced power and HVAC systems for light manufacturing. It also has 7,000 square feet of classroom space, including a fully functional computer lab. All classrooms are available for reservation to business partners occupying the facility and to the general public.
"As a small, disadvantaged business, the ability to have shared professional business resources on hand gave us the opportunity to focus on growing our company and clientele without having to worry about resource issues that several small businesses face on a daily basis," Moore said. "Having the Endeavor Center located in Pike County, a historically depressed area of Ohio, gives area residents the confidence that a business does not have to be located in a big city to ultimately be successful."
Since opening in 2005, The Ohio State University Endeavor Center and its business partners have:
- Created more than 500, high-skill, high-wage jobs, adding more than $50 million of direct economic activity to the community.
- Helped more than 70 small businesses tackle obstacles to growth, supplying strategic and space resources required for expansion.
- Seen more than two dozen partners graduate from the center to construct their own facilities or expand into larger facilities in the local commercial real estate market. One of them is WAI, which is building its own corporate office in the Piketon area. "We want to continue to give back economically to this area," Moore said.
In addition, the Endeavor Center's business incubator has drawn federal and state dollars to the community, garnering $2 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration; $370,000 from the Governor's Office of Appalachia; $300,000 of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development; $270,000 from the Southern Ohio Agricultural Community Development Foundation; $900,000 from OSU Capital Budget; and $700,000 of federal community reuse funding via the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative.
In cooperation with the Small Business Development Center of Ohio, the Endeavor Center has sponsored or conducted 1,500 business workshops, training sessions, and seminars with more than 20,000 attendees—business owners, prospective entrepreneurs, and employees seeking to improve the profitability of their businesses so they can grow and provide additional employment opportunities.
"The Endeavor Center has been a vital partner in the rapid growth and success of our business," Moore said. "We look forward to continuing our business partnership with the OSU Endeavor Center so that WAI can help other small businesses achieve their dreams in the future."
More information is at http://southcenters.osu.edu and http://endeavor.osu.edu.
Find more story-related photographs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/osucfaes/.