The City of Sharonville has invested $6 million in the Northern Lights Entertainment District.

With more than 1,000 new jobs recently announced by businesses in the city of Sharonville, a new hotel under construction and an expected influx of visitors to events at Princeton High School’s new Viking Village, Sharonville officials are trying to make sure they have all the needed amenities in place.

That means making sure there are enough full-service restaurants in the city to feed all those hungry people. That’s one of the jobs of Chris Xeil Lyons, the city’s economic development director.

And the first step to bring those restaurants to town is to make sure developers know how much potential exists in the city, particularly in what’s called the Northern Lights Entertainment District, home of the Sharonville Convention Center, says Lyons.

The Northern Lights Entertainment District includes the stretch of Chester Road between Kemper Road and Princeton High School.

“We’ve been trying to work as much as possible with some developers and just trying to get the story out because a lot of people don’t know everything that’s been happening along that corridor,” says Lyons.

What’s been happening is a $6 million investment by Sharonville in the infrastructure along the corridor and an additional $2.9 million of work that is planned, including burying utilities, and installing stamped concrete sidewalks, decorative street lights and improved crosswalks, she says.

In addition, Princeton High School’s Viking Village, which includes a 1,200-seat performance theater with a full orchestra pit, a 2,500-seat sports arena and a 500-seat natatorium, was recently completed, says Lyons. That means the facility will be home to numerous tournaments, competitions and performances, she says.

“They’re going to be attracting all kinds of groups,” Lyons says. “And we really think there’s going to be a need for more restaurants in that Northern Lights area.”

A new $14 million, 110-room Hyatt Place hotel is also under construction. The six-story metal-and-glass building, which will connect to the city’s Convention Center, is expected to open no later than the first quarter of next year, says Lyons.

“We hope it’s going to improve our convention center’s competitiveness when courting special events and conventions because it’s actually going to be connected to our convention center,” she says.

A $25 million expansion and renovation of the Sharonville Convention Center was completed in 2013. The Sharonville Convention Center now has a 1,000-seat ballroom, a 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall and 19 meeting rooms.

But Lyons is concerned that the word is not getting out about all that the area has to offer. “Nobody knows that we’ve had all this investment and improvements,” she says.

That may be about to change. “All of the above efforts have led to a lot of excitement and interest about the Northern Lights District,” says City Manager Jim Lukas. “It is my belief that, within the next few years, many will once again be talking about Chester Road, the heart of the Northern Lights District, as one of the ‘go to’ places in the region,” he says.

The city in general has certainly become one of the “go to” places for businesses creating new jobs.

United Healthcare recently moved about 200 jobs to the Summit Woods office park; Club Chef, a Castellini company, plans to create a new business venture with 355 new jobs in the Caruso building on Hauck Road; Standard Aero announced a major expansion and the creation of 120 new jobs; Tata Consultancy Services plans to bring 300 jobs to the One Crowne Point office building; and Gorilla Glue last year bought a building in Sharonville and agreed to create 110 fulltime jobs, Lyons says.

Lukas says there are two primary reasons that Sharonville has become an excellent place to establish, develop and grow a business. The first is the city’s location near, and access to, three major interstates—Interstate 275, Interstate 75 and Interstate 71, he says.

The second reason is probably the most important, Lukas says, and that is the city of Sharonville’s culture regarding economic development. “From Mayor [Kevin] Hardman’s direction and vision, to the support of the other elected officials, to the relationships that our economic development director, Chris Xeil Lyons, achieves with businesses and developers, to the expedited review and inspection process of the city’s Planning Commission and Community Development Department, we often hear from business representatives how Sharonville is more approachable and partners with them better than many others in our region,” he says.

Lyons agrees with that assessment. “We’re a really easy-to-work-with community,” she says. “Our city council is very responsive. They’re a pro-business community. Our mayor is very supportive of everything we do so I think it’s all around having the administration and elected officials and then all of our departments.”

And that willingness to work with businesses is important. “Business owners talk with one another and the positive word of mouth about Sharonville helps us as well,” says Lukas.

Not only are Sharonville officials willing to work with businesses, but Lyons says it’s her job to provide businesses with the information they need as quickly as possible. “I work closely with these companies and try to cut down the timing of some projects and expedite projects,” says Lyons. “We can get offers to companies pretty quick.”

Another reasons Sharonville is a great community in which to locate and grow a business is the availability of a variety of office space, says Lyons. “We’ve got our class ‘A’ office space in Summit Woods and then we’ve also got some other more affordable office space available so people can grow here,” she says. “They can come into a smaller building and have the opportunity to still stay in Sharonville and move up with the variety of buildings we have available.”