Economic growth soars in Wood County

Wood County has experienced the fastest economic growth in nearly four decades.

Wade Gottschalk, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, reported at Thursday’s meeting of the Wood County Commissioners that there is interest in the former Peloton site with growth also anticipated in Troy, Middleton and Henry townships.

“We have roared back with the fastest year of economic growth since 1984,” Gottschalk said.

Peloton, although no longer coming to the county, will finish the construction of its 1 million square foot building in Troy Township.

“They’re going to finish the building,” Gottschalk said. “What that means, we don’t know yet.”

What the company does, whether it completes the shell or pours the flooring, will matter when it comes to marketing the facility, he said.

“Their intent is to finish it and sell it,” he said, and added Peloton has already started marketing the site.

“They told us they want to be an ideal corporate neighbor and sell it to somebody who can also create a reasonable number of jobs,” Gottschalk said.

The site is attractive and with a building on it, it will be more so.

Gottschalk added that a finished building is welcomed as it would take 18 months to two years to construct a facility that size.

There also is a large amount of usable acreage left on that site, which opens even more opportunities for whoever buys it, he said.

“We’re not looking at this as a loss,” he said.

If the economy stays strong, that building will be sold quickly, he said.

First Solar has asked for an amended tax abatement to include a building 10% larger than planned.

The expansion, initially anticipated at 1.8 million square feet, will now be 2 million square feet when it is done, Gottschalk said.

The company is building a second plant on Ohio 795 in Lake Township. This will make it the largest solar panel manufacturer in the world outside of China, he said.

“That has been a fantastic project,” Gottschalk said. “It’s just a massive corporate presence in Wood County.”

NSG Glass North America built a 500,000-square-foot glass plant in Luckey to service First Solar, he said.

“We’re still the glass capital of the world,” he said, adding maybe not in pure glass but in glass derivatives.

Gottschalk continued to report there is a lot of interest in other properties in the county with multiple developers looking.

There are a couple hundred acres available at NorthPoint, on Ohio 18 in Henry County; there is a site plan for a 1-million-square-foot facility on Ohio 582 in Middleton Township being developed by InSite Real Estate; and Scannell Properties is developing nearly 250 acres on Buck Road at the Interstate 75 interchange in Rossford.

“Those are projects that are obviously ongoing,” he said.

Gottschalk said he gets calls every week from a developer looking for something in this region.

“We’re not going to top last year in terms of dollars,” he said. “We might top it, though, in terms of the number of properties.”

It hasn’t all be new companies. There has been growth of existing companies in the county, he said.

Commissioner Craig LaHote asked if NSG Glass North America will open its new facility for a tour.

No one has been through the site due to the pandemic, Gottschalk said, but the company is still planning an open house.

There are still many greenfield sites in Wood County – undeveloped agricultural land – to offer to people who want to come here, he said, and being centrally located helps.

“It’s been a very positive several years and we see that continuing for the near future,” he said.

Despite the tight labor market, he is still seeing a lot of interest and said people will go where the jobs are.

The last reported unemployment rate was 2.8% which ties with a record set in 1998.

“People in Wood County who want jobs have them,” he said.