Tuesday, August 2, 2011

County Development Efforts Ready to Expand Again

Darke County Economic Development Director Marc Saluk
gives an update on county development plans to investors
in the Partnering for Progress campaign. The quarterly meeting
was the third of 2011 an was held at The Andersons Marathon
Ethanol plant in Greenville.
Darke County- Investors in Darke County’s Partnering for Progress (P4P) campaign filled The Andersons Marathon Ethanol plant conference room on July 29 to receive the economic development report for the third quarter of 2011. Aside from the usual report on recent development efforts, the crowd of approximately 60 heard some new wrinkles from Economic Development Director Marc Saluk, including the direction of P4P itself.

“In my mind, we have completed phase one of Partnering for Progress,” stated Saluk. “Over the last 21 months, a lot has been done to improve future development efforts through a lot of reorganization and restructuring. We’ve focused internally, and for good reason. But now, I believe we are ready to look outward.”

Saluk explained that, despite success in assisting businesses such as dry-ice manufacturer Continental Carbonic come to the county, the partnership has not focused overtly on the attraction of companies. Instead, he said, development efforts have focused on improving relations with businesses already doing business within Darke County. Saluk said that the initial strategy was a necessary one.

“About 86-percent of new job creation in a rural county comes from existing businesses,” he said. “That shows you that you really miss the boat if you don’t do your due diligence internally. We had to establish that we stand ready to help in any way we can on any reasonable project a local business may bring.”

Shawn Daugherty (right) of Greenville Federal Bank greets
John Marchal, Sr (left) of Marchal & Marchal law offices
before the July 29 Partnering for Progress investor meeting. The event, held
four times each year to provide a development update to investors,
was held at The Andersons Marathon Ethanol plant in Greenville.
Recent job creating projects that occurred with some assistance from P4P includes expansions at JAFE Decorating, Integrity Ambulance, HD Supply, and American Plastics Recycling. At the meeting, county leaders emphasized that the campaign would not lose this internal focus but now felt they had the experience and resources to look to entice more outside companies to relocate to Darke County.

Saluk stated that the creation of the first stand-alone Darke County Economic Development website (slated to be launched later in August), establishment of strong regional partnerships in West Central Ohio, and other recent developments all now make business attraction a more viable pursuit. Randy Gump, VP of the Darke County CIC, stewards of the P4P funds, explained another key factor.

“The new administration in Columbus has been very clear that they are focused on the attraction of businesses to the state,” explained Randy Gump. “The likely new JobsOhio structure looks like it will also have elements that will favor this as well. As our county-wide development campaign matures, we’ve become better positioned to capitalize on this.”

Also at the investor meeting, attendees received an update from Continental Carbonic Plant Manager Scott Reece. Reece discussed the number of local partnerships the plant had formed and praised the community for its available resources.

In a new meeting feature that started this year, the Darke County CIC presented its Business of the Quarter award to Brilliant Beginnings Learning Center in Versailles. The company was selected for its unique contribution to the community since its 2010 opening alongside the new Versailles School. The first Business-of-the-Quarter award was given in May to Specialized Castings in Greenville.

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