|BG urged to join regional efforts|
|Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor|
|Thursday, 01 May 2014 10:08|
A polite, but firm nudge for Bowling Green and Wood County businesses to get on board with the Regional Growth Partnership was delivered Wednesday at the annual meeting of BG's Community Development Foundation.
Dean Monske, president and CEO for the multi-county operation, explained structural changes in the RGP, the developing JobsOhio program, and how other communities are getting involved.
He said the recent split of the RGP from the University of Toledo's Rocket Ventures was intended to help quash the idea that the RGP is a Toledo-centric proposition.
"What is good for the RGP is good for Bowling Green and what is good for Bowling Green is good for the RGP," Monske said. "We are as transparent as we can be. There is no way we can steer projects. It is a straightforward operation."
Monske said "when RGP gets information about a firm looking at the area, the criteria are sent to everybody. Sue (Clark at BGCDF) and Wade (Gottschalk at Wood County Economic Development) get it. They can see the sites submitted."
He said the RGP needs strong local economic development agencies. "We rely on the local people to do the footwork. The local folks are part of the assets. If the CDF and WCED are not there I need to hire three more people in my office to cover Wood County. There are lots of ways to collaborate," Monske said.
While Northwest Ohio has 75 percent of the things most companies need, there are no "spec" (speculation) buildings. "We have broken ground on a 100,000 square-foot building on the old Jeep property (in Toledo) and there are nine more to follow around the area. I expect that (Toledo) building to be leased before it is finished."
Monske said there are vacant buildings in the region but many are older and don't have the proper ceiling height to meet modern manufacturing needs. The RGP and the city of Defiance are "in discussions" about a spec building for that community and Findlay has also shown interest. "We could do five or six of these buildings this year," Monske said.
He noted that Columbus has 1.2 million square feet of spec space and a reputation with national developers.
"Here in Northwest Ohio we do not yet have the belief that 'If we build it they will come.' Communities like Bowling Green need to see the value and be ready to share some risk. We have the assets," Monske said.
In summing up the 26th annual report, CDF Executive Director Sue Clark said companies invested $39,937,538 on machinery and equipment and $7,014,991 on building expansion in 2013.
Clark said two empty buildings, Rexam in Bellard Business Park, and Thomas and Betts on East Poe Road, were sold. TH Plastics has about 100 employees in the Rexam facility and Phoenix Technologies will begin rehab of the Thomas and Betts building shortly to expand its plastics recycling operations by the end of the year.
"Our biggest problem remains skilled workers in the trades. We have been working with Penta Career Center and several local school districts to correct that problem. It will take five to 10 years. We need to convince young people that there are jobs in manufacturing and skilled trades that can provide a good living," Clark said.
The CDF's 2013 annual report can be found at: http://bowlinggreen-oh.com/2013-annual-report/
|Last Updated on Thursday, 01 May 2014 11:12|
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