Friday, May 6, 2011

Investors Updated on Economic Development Efforts

The most recent Partnering for Progress (P4P) meeting continued a recent trend for the campaign by producing another record turnout of investors. Over 60 investors in the county wide economic development campaign, designed at its core to create and retain business and jobs in Darke County, participated in the quarterly event which was held on April 29 at HD Supply’s new home on Sater Street in Greenville.

Aside from an update from Economic Development Director Marc Saluk, the morning meeting featured a brief presentation from hosts HD Supply (a P4P success story in 2010), the first Darke County Business of the Quarter award recipient, and the election of new investor representatives to the Darke County Community Improvement (CIC) board.

During the economic development presentation, Saluk informed the group that 16 active projects in Darke County represented the potential for almost half a billion in investments in Darke County and a total of 849 jobs.

“These projects are at varying stages of development. Some may unfold this year and some may remain in development for awhile,” Saluk said. “The important thing to take from this is that, despite the economy, there are expansion projects being considered by Darke County companies and that those companies are approaching Partnering for Progress personnel for potential assistance.”

Saluk added that the numbers continued a trend from last year where the county received national recognition for its development efforts even though 2010 began in the midst of recession. Saluk cited success stories from last year from each category of development success including business attraction (Continental Carbonic), retention (HD Supply), start-ups (American Plastics Recycling), and existing business expansion (JAFE Decorating).

Saluk also elaborated on the quality of jobs that have been created, attracted, or retained with assistance from the P4P initiative. Attendees were presented with six examples of successfully completed job creating projects and the associated average wages of those jobs. Average wages per project ranged from $10/hour on the lower end up to approximately $22/hour on the high end. Half of the projects created positions that pay an average of $19/hour or higher.

Though many current projects are confidential in nature, Saluk did focus on several specific businesses. Continental Carbonic, the dry ice manufacturer finishing up construction of its new facility in the Greenville Industrial park, is slated to begin production this month and hold a dedication ceremony in June. Marco’s Pizza’s purchase of Treaty Lanes and Scoreboards Restaurant will produce approximately 25 new jobs in Greenville. Also, Integrity Ambulance is likely to break ground in Greenville later in May on their new corporate headquarters. The project will also result in a new mixed-use business park next to the old Corning site.

“Obviously, we don’t create capital investment or jobs….the company does”, explained Saluk. “But we do try to bring every tool that we can into play to help companies with projects navigate hurdles, speed development, and utilize any tools at our disposal that can help their bottom-line” Other projects in development include a solar farm, expansion of the county’s existing industrial parks, the development of several new grant and loan programs for business, and at least four projects that hold the potential to create and/or retain at least 50 jobs each. Assistance given to these projects is all made possible, according to Saluk, by the investors backing the P4P initiative, a number that now stands at 53.

“In the last 18 months, the initiative has gained many new public and private investors,” stated CIC Vice-President Randy Gump. “This county wide collaboration gives us a competitive edge in retaining and attracting business. It provides us resources for job creating projects and a cooperative atmosphere that companies take note of when evaluating us.”

Since its inception, about $225,000 in investor contributions has helped yield almost $14 million in assistance through grants and loans for Darke County companies. Saluk indicated that more success on that front could be in store in 2011 but that budget uncertainties at the state and federal level are currently hampering many traditional economic development tools.

“In the meantime, we will keep bringing into play what we can. It’s not rocket science,” he said. “Our job is to listen and respond to business needs. Keeping the lines of communication open and a rapid response to company needs…those are still the main tools of the job.”
Also on Friday, investors voted Mike Henderson of Mote and Associates and Randy O’Dell of JAFE Decorating to the CIC Board as their representatives for the next 12 months. Also, Specialized Castings of Greenville was given the CIC’s Business of the Quarter award for the first quarter of 2011. The award is designed to recognize a company for its contribution to the community.
Questions regarding the quarterly investor meeting and the Partnering for Progress initiative can be directed to the Economic Development Office at 548-3250.

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