As the country shifts into post-pandemic mode, employees are starting to return to their offices. Located in the heart of Cuyahoga County, Independence enjoys a premier location that’s easily accessible from all points north, south, east and west — resulting in two of the city’s prominent businesses moving into spaces tailor-made for today’s workforce.
Elizabeth Newman, chief of staff for CBIZ — one of the nation’s top accounting providers, employee benefits specialists, property and casualty brokerages, and retirement and investment solutions providers, with more than 100 offices and 6,000 team members — understands how important convenience is for business.
The firm’s national headquarters has been a fixture in Independence for 25 years. So when it was time to expand, there was no question about where it would be. A new, six-story Class A office building — the first one built in Independence in more than two decades — is slated to open next year. It will feature top-of-the-line infrastructure, along with a fitness center, cafe for employees, conference rooms, indoor parking and adjacent outdoor walking trails. The energy-efficient project will feature plenty of glass to let in natural light.
CBIZ will be the anchor tenant. The firm’s 200 staff members who work in the city will occupy 59,000 square feet.
“CBIZ’s decision to establish its headquarters in a new Class A office building will be transformative for the Rockside Woods Boulevard area and will create opportunities for future investment,” says Mayor Gregory Kurtz. “It is another step forward in the development of the city’s office and entertainment district.”
The company was initially scouting existing buildings to renovate. Newman and her team opted instead to partner with Akron’s Welty Building Co. to explore other possibilities.
“When we learned this new building was being constructed, it became a very attractive option that’s clearly right for us,” she says. “It’s important to us that our environment enables collaboration, makes it easy to work together and attracts employees back to the office. The cafe will be a place where you can grab a cup of coffee with a colleague, meet with a client or work independently — and we’re really excited about the beautiful new terrace that affords amazing views of downtown.”
Welty Development’s president, Tom Charek, and his business partner, Don Taylor, are excited about their contribution to Independence’s vibrant landscape.
“CBIZ wanted to stay in Independence but couldn’t find a great Class A office building that would fill its needs for today and the future,” Charek says. “The solution was to build a brand-new, best-in-class building that had easy freeway access and was close to great restaurants. In a post-COVID world, there are other companies like CBIZ that are looking for a fresh, clean space they don’t have to retrofit to make work. We wouldn’t be building this if we didn’t believe that’s a fact.”
Brian Antonius, director of real estate for CBIZ, credits Mayor Kurtz and Jessica Hyser, the city’s economic development director, with being instrumental in helping the company remain in the community.
“We’ve grown here, and our employee base is strong,” Antonius says. “Our new location across from Topgolf, at the crossroads of I-480 and I-77, will give us increased visibility.”
A leader in testing, inspecting, and certifying products — ranging from plumbing fixtures to gas appliances and lights to ensure they’re in compliance with safety, environmental and performance standards around the world — CSA Group’s U.S. headquarters has been part of the Independence business community since 1968. A new chapter will begin this fall when the firm’s expansion project will be completed on East Pleasant Valley Road. The new lab will be a hub for testing distributed generation systems designed to store energy.
“We’re putting up a new, two-story facility that will do everything we need it to do,” says Rich Weiser, executive vice president of global operations for CSA Group.
The 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, designed by HWH and built by Curtis Layer, will become home base for CSA Group’s 200 local staff members.
“Independence is a business-friendly community,” Weiser says. “Mayor Kurtz and Jessica Hyser have been fantastic throughout the expansion, and members of the fire
department have advised us on the design to make sure we are up to code. CSA is one of Independence’s and
Cleveland’s best-kept secrets.”