COVID-19 doesn’t have to halt expansion plans

In April 2020, 85 percent less commercial construction broke ground in the Central Ohio region compared to years prior to the pandemic.
Between rising unemployment rates and a struggling economy, business owners and developers spent conservatively. And while being mindful about spending during uncertain times is prudent, uncertainty doesn’t have to stop plans for growth.
Before purchasing a lot to develop, consider which areas need economic stimulation and which are trending upward in terms of business growth. In Central Ohio, the Milo-Grogan neighborhood has begun to see rapid growth in terms of developing businesses, and companies are looking to open shops and relocate there. Choosing to develop there provides a home for these businesses while also stimulating the local economy.
When developing an up-and-coming area, developers should be mindful about preserving the community while also managing costs. Taking this approach can not only minimize costs but also ensure that no part of the community’s history is removed in the site preparation process.
Additionally, remote work trends are on the rise, and many workers in areas where costs of living are very high have the option of continuing to work remotely at their coastal companies while relocating to Midwestern cities to save thousands of dollars a month. As a result, Columbus has seen a small surge in the number of people relocating here, pouring funds into the local economy.
Take it in phases
It may be overly optimistic to think that all available space in a new development would immediately be filled, but some businesses have thrived during the pandemic. And whether they need a small office space, storage space, or an in-person location for their growing customer base, there is still a need for development.
Taking a phased approach to development can help find a middle ground. For example, a project with the potential for nine buildings could start with the completion of one building, and depending on interest, the other buildings would completed the following year. This approach allows a developer to fill the space over time rather than bearing all costs at once.
Ask the right questions
As companies grow, they may need additional office and storage space to keep up with future service demand. Start with differentiating whether expansion is necessary or a nice-to-have when evaluating your approach.
That said, sometimes there are too many financial uncertainties to take on the cost of new development. Considering the options, brainstorming new approaches and asking the right questions is the first step in figuring out whether expansion plans have to be put on hold or whether the company is being overly precautionary — and potentially missing an opportunity.

For us, we knew we needed to find a way to make the most of opportunities for expansion, so we pivoted our strategy in a way that felt safe while also pushing us to grow. Be innovative in your approach to development in a way that feels right for your business and that helps strengthen the Central Ohio community for tomorrow.

Bob Lester is President and CEO of Dura-Seal