Sep 11, 2023 - News

Columbus competing with Dayton for trendy businesses

An overhead view of a Buc-ees gas station and convenience store.

The Dayton area is getting Ohio's first Buc-ee's gas station and convenience store. Photo: Smiley N. Pool/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

A suburban mayor near Dayton nearly broke the internet when he recently announced local plans for Ohio's first Buc-ee's gas station.

Why it matters: The Columbus region has long been a popular test market and entry point for brands coming to Ohio, but we face increasing competition from metros like Dayton that can also tout favorable Midwestern geography and diverse demographics.

The big picture: In addition to Buc-ee's, Wawa, another popular convenience store chain, also has eyes on the Dayton area as it gears up to spread throughout Ohio.

Between the lines: Dayton's trendy business announcements reflect an economic trajectory that closely mirrors our own.

  • Dayton is likewise becoming a supply chain behemoth thanks to its proximity to the major I-70/75 interchange.
  • It also boasts a steady workforce pipeline involving several nearby universities and the sizable Sinclair Community College.
  • Just as our economic development groups do, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce touts the city being within a day's drive and 90-minute flight from a large portion of America.

What they're saying: "It's fun to be a part of it," DACC president Chris Kershner tells Axios.

  • He says his organization hears "all the time" from businesses that value Dayton's ideal location and diverse consumer base.

Zoom in: That might explain why the city is occasionally stealing our thunder.

  • Shaquille O'Neal's chicken restaurant chain, Big Chicken, is planning a major Ohio expansion beginning in Columbus, but its Dayton location opened last summer.
  • The same is true for Twin Peaks, a sort of upscale Hooters, which came to Columbus a year after first arriving in Dayton.

Yes, but: We've still enjoyed plenty of high-profile debuts in recent years, from the rapid spread of Sheetz gas stations to Easton's Amazon Style store.

  • On the test product side, there's Sunny D's new vodka seltzer (Alissa surprisingly liked it) and Chipotle's ill-fated burger experiment Tasty Made (Tyler found it decent but overpriced).
  • A Bojangles chicken restaurant is set to open on Hilliard-Rome Road this week.
  • "Because of our diversity, logistical advantages and spirit of innovation, the Columbus region has been and will continue to be a major test market," Columbus Partnership spokesperson Jon Keeling told us.

The bottom line: For all the attention the Buc-ee's and Wawa announcements have received, Kershner doesn't want to hear Columbus folks getting too jealous.

  • "You've got Intel. Come on!"

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