Marathon Petroleum confirms $80M project for Findlay

Plans hinge on city’s flood mitigation efforts

2/17/2014
BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Marathon Petroleum Corporation has decided to embark on a multi-year project to expand and enhance its corporate offices in Findlay.
Marathon Petroleum Corporation has decided to embark on a multi-year project to expand and enhance its corporate offices in Findlay.

FINDLAY — Marathon Petroleum Corp. plans to soon begin work on an $80 million expansion of its downtown Findlay headquarters campus.

The refining giant wants to build two new office buildings and two parking decks to the south of its existing headquarters building. Marathon is also exploring the option of working with a third-party developer to build a hotel or other mixed use facility on the corporate campus.

The company confirmed its plans to The Blade on Monday.

“Since 2011, we have grown by more than 200 employees at our corporate headquarters,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Heminger said. “It has become necessary that we expand our corporate offices to meet our increased employee base and growing business. When completed, we will have an exceptional campus that will meet the needs of our business for years to come.”

Marathon currently has about 1,900 employees working out of its Findlay headquarters. In 2012, the Ohio Department of Development said Marathon was the 30th largest employer in Ohio with 9,500 employees in the state. Late last month, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority voted to extend Marathon’s job-creation tax credit. State officials said Marathon in return would be expanding its headquarters and adding 150 jobs worth $15 million in annual payroll.

However, before Marathon goes forward with construction, local officials say the corporation wants to see a solid flood mitigation plan for the Blanchard River that flows through Findlay. Over the years the river has overflowed its banks, flooding parts of downtown Findlay where Marathon has its headquarters.

Marathon has said their pipeline operation, run out of Findlay, controls 10 percent of the total transportation fuels in the United States.

“If we have a flood and they can’t get people to work, now you’re talking about a national interest in it. More so, they control about 25 percent of the Midwestern transportation fuels out of Findlay, Ohio,” said Tony Iriti, director of Findlay Hancock County Economic Development. “The [Army Corps of Engineers] always knew it was important to us as an economic engine, but they never saw that side of it. Gary Heminger was able to let them know and that’s why we’re cautiously optimistic.”

Mr. Iriti said the Corps’ study is about three-quarters complete. He is hopeful the funding will come through within the next three to four weeks for the Corps to finish the study and make public a tentative plan to deal with future flooding.

Marathon says the first phase of the expansion will be to build a parking deck adjacent to Sandusky Street to the rear of the existing building. A parking second deck and 120,000-square-foot office building will be constructed to the south of the current headquarters. The company says the two parking decks will have spots for 2,000 vehicles.

The expansion will give Marathon’s headquarters a more campuslike feel, with a rendering showing several green space areas.

A company spokesman said Monday that Marathon has acquired all the property necessary for the expansion, with work scheduled to begin this spring. The project is expected to take two to three years to complete.

Marathon said the campus will also serve as headquarters of MPLX, a pipeline distribution subsidiary that was spun off in late 2012.

The company also announced it is making a $1.1 million donation to Findlay City Schools to be used toward technology upgrades and construction of a new bus garage.

“Our investment in a new campus, as well as our donation to Findlay City Schools, shows our long-term commitment to Findlay,” Mr. Heminger said.

With revenues of more than $100 billion last year, Marathon is Northwest Ohio’s largest public company.

Mr. Iriti said downtown Findlay stands to benefit big from Marathon’s investment.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s really a lot of good stuff and obviously marathon being the catalyst for this all. Keeping it downtown and building their campus in the downtown is tremendous.”

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.