Prior projects are keeping Wood County in the economic game, as it adjusts to the coronavirus crisis.
In a quarterly update to the commissioners on Tuesday, the executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission said that a North Baltimore project is progressing.
Wade Gottschalk said that dirt is moving at NorthPoint Development in Henry Township, across from CSX.
“That is a fairly substantial project,” he said. “The projection is for a few hundred jobs when it’s done.”
Logistics Park Ohio is a $100-$150 million project.
The first part of the first phase is starting, with construction on a warehouse, Gottschalk said.
He said a non-disclosure agreement is in place, meaning he can not reveal the first tenant. He expects construction on this first warehouse to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.
In February, the commissioners approved a Community Reinvestment Area Program for NorthPoint Development. The CRA is a direct incentive tax exemption program benefiting property owners who renovate existing or construct new buildings.
The deal gives NorthPoint 100% tax exemption for 15 years for each building. There could be five phases, with the first phase encompassing 278 acres.
The job numbers were 1,557 in the first phase, with an additional 489 in the second phase, according to information presented to the commissioners.
The new Amazon fulfillment center in Rossford is also starting to hire around 1,200 workers starting this month. Within the next year, 3,000 are expected to be hired.
Gottschalk said these jobs will pay $15 per hour and include benefits.
“It’s a good thing we got some of those projects last year,” he said.
Coronavirus has put a damper on the usually robust economy in Wood County, Gottschalk said.
There are over 5,000 continuing unemployment claims here, he said.
“That’s up from, we were averaging less than 500 claims prior to COVID,” he said. “Obviously, COVID’s had a major impact on what we do.”
The bleak numbers may help the county get some federal dollars, he said.
“We normally don’t meet those conditions because our economy’s usually very good. But during these times, we might. So we’re going to keep our eye on that,” Gottschalk said.
The next batch of nationwide job numbers will be released on Thursday, he said. But the ones to really look for will be released in early August, he said.
“The July numbers will tell you how much is just that bounce off of the bottom when we had that initial ‘stay at home’ order,” Gottschalk said. “The July numbers are really going to show us where the economy’s at, post ‘stay at home’ orders.”
Wearing masks could be a key to getting the economy going again, Gottschalk said.
If someone is leery about shopping or going out in public because others aren’t wearing masks, that customer will stay home, he said.
“It’s an economic issue as much as it is a health issue,” said Gottschalk, who had coronavirus in March. “You look at a lot of polling, there’s a lot of people out there that don’t feel comfortable going out in public because they see people without masks on.
“So, if everybody wore masks, you’d probably increase consumer confidence.”