FINDLAY, OHIO – Economic development officials detailed a success story Wednesday, outlining to Kiwanis Club members how McLane Co., a grocery distributor, decided to construct a $38 million, 337,831-square-foot grocery distribution center on Findlay’s north side.
The company, headquartered in Temple, Texas, is building the distribution center on Hancock County 212, across from Lowe’s Distribution Center in the new Tall Timbers West industrial park.
The distribution center will serve seven states and is expected to open in the second quarter of 2016, Tim Mayle, assistant director of Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development, said.
It will eventually employ 425 people who will receive an average annual wage of $57,000 plus benefits.
Tony Iriti, director of Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development, said local officials were notified in May 2013 of an unnamed company’s interest in land at the southwest corner of Hancock County 99 and Interstate 75 for a “major investment.” An offer was made in October 2013 on the land adjacent to the interstate, but a sale agreement could not be finalized, Iriti said.
However, that same month, economic development personnel “pitched” the Hancock County 212 property owned by George and Camille Ranzau.
By February 2014, a letter of intent was signed with the property owners, and it was disclosed that McLane Co. was the purchaser.
Economic development personnel held a meeting with city, county, township, Blanchard Valley Port Authority, state transportation department and JobsOhio officials. After that nearly six-hour meeting, Mayle said, the company felt Findlay was the right location for the nearly $119 million investment, which includes $80 million in equipment.
Issues like zoning, road improvements, a tax incentive package, right of way for roads and utilities, and property annexation then were handled.
The utility infrastructure is in place for additional tenants at the new industrial park, he said, which is a bonus for potential tenants.
The industrial park is located south of Hancock County 212 and north of Bigelow Avenue. The company will occupy 88 acres, which leaves 225 acres for development.
Kiwanis members watched a video showing a highly-automated Missouri distribution center built by McLane, which will be like the one in Findlay.
“Now you see why we are so excited about it,” Iriti said after the video. “Distribution (of materials) has gone to a whole new level.”
He said students should look at jobs in automation engineering or industrial maintenance.
“People who go out to fix these machines now do not wear a toolbelt, they carry a laptop to make all that technology happen,” Iriti said.
During a question and answer period, Mayor Lydia Mihalik said Findlay and Hancock County had $250 million in new investment and over 800 jobs created last year.
“That’s exciting and there’s so much more on the horizon,” Mihalik said. “The entire community should be proud of where we’re at right now.”
On the issue of a rebound by the retail sector and Findlay Village Mall, Iriti said they will, but it will take time.
After a recession, retail is the last segment of the economy to pick up, he said. Retailers are saving money by not building new stores, and instead going to online shopping and shipping items directly and quickly to customers, Iriti said.
He said Target, once thought to be eyeing this area for a store, has closed its Canadian stores and is encouraging online shopping. If enough people in an area are buying online, companies may build a small store for distribution of ordered merchandise, he said.
“Retail is trying to re-create themselves,” Iriti said.
By JIM MAURER, STAFF WRITER