Wood County saw another successful year for economic development in 2022, following solid business investments the last several years prior.
With nearly $1 billion in new private sector economic development investments announced in Wood County in 2022, creating over 800 new jobs, this was another banner year for business growth in the county.
As a result of previous projects and continued economic growth, the unemployment rate in the county continued its decline into record territory, posting an all time low of 2.6% in November (county unemployment rate data goes back to 1992).
While many existing companies in Wood County continued to have success while making capital expenditures and increasing employment, the following projects involved substantial community partnerships in bringing them to fruition.
Long-time Wood County business First Solar continued its growth with the announcement and groundbreaking of an approximately 1.5 million-square-foot research and development facility in Perrysburg Township between Oregon and Tracy roads, just west of their existing manufacturing plants in Lake Township.
When complete, this new $270 million investment is expected to be the first of its scale in the United States and is expected to solidify Ohio’s position as the hub for American leadership in the development and production of advanced thin film photovoltaics (PV).
The investment comes on the heels of significant manufacturing expansion for First Solar, which is commissioning its third Ohio factory this year while launching a $185 million investment in upgrading and expanding its Northwest Ohio manufacturing footprint.
This expansion will increase First Solar’s total investment in manufacturing and R&D facilities in Ohio to over $3 billion and makes Ohio home to the largest fully vertically integrated solar manufacturing footprint outside of China.
Also in Perrysburg Township, longtime township business IMCO Carbide Tool began a $39 million expansion project that will result in 92 jobs, nearly doubling their operations when complete.
In Rossford, Scannell Properties made a significant investment with the completion of two, 200,000 square-foot, multi-tenant industrial buildings, with the first building already housing a UPS operation.
These projects are in Rossford’s new Innovation Commerce Center off of Glenwood Road, which will also include an excess of $10 million in infrastructure improvements to facilitate this development over the next several years.
These new projects were accompanied by the continued success of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Rossford that opened in 2020. It is Wood County’s largest private sector employer with over 4,000 associates.
These recent projects in Rossford enabled the Wood County Port Authority to leverage over $2 million in federal grants to fund a rebuild of Deimling Road that is the northern boundary of the Amazon site.
In Henry Township, across from the CSX intermodal facility, UPS purchased a 400,000 square-foot building from Northpoint Development and will begin operations in the second quarter of 2023 bringing approximately 600 jobs to the facility.
A few miles to the east of that project, in North Baltimore, Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative in partnership with Nooter (Toledo) announced plans to build a 100,000 square foot spec building right off the Insley Road Interstate 75 interchange.
Earlier in 2022, Bowling Green was successful in securing an investment from previously mentioned Scannell Properties to construct a 250,000 square-foot facility for a FedEx Ground distribution center in Woodbridge Business Park.
Last — chronologically — was the largest project announcement of 2022 in Wood County, as Bowling Green landed an Abbott Laboratories formula plant that will involve an investment of over $500 million and create 450 jobs when complete. This new facility will be located on the east side SR 25 just south of Nims Road and will begin construction in 2023 with plans to be fully operational in 2027.
These successes would not be possible without the great team that Wood County and its jurisdictions bring to every opportunity and the collaborative environment behind the scenes that lays the foundations for continued success in economic development throughout the county. While
organizations directly tasked with economic development functions (Wood County Economic Development, Bowling Green Economic Development, the Wood County Port Authority, and RGP Northwest Ohio) lead these projects, it is ultimately the commitment of local elected officials to the continued growth of jobs and tax base in the community that have secured Wood County as a great place to invest and locate businesses.
Gottschalk is executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission.