Findlay and Hancock County’s quality of life will benefit for years because of jobs added and businesses expanded, said Adam Bruns, Site Selection Magazine managing editor.
Findlay’s top ranking, announced weeks ago, planted seeds for the future, Bruns said.
On the day Site Selection named Findlay No. 1 in the nation for business growth among small cities, Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development’s website received 3,000 hits from 19 countries and 48 states, said Anthony Iriti, director of Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development.
“We play a role in the future, and that’s really what all of you in economic development and in the corporate world and as elected officials are doing,” said Bruns, who traveled from Atlanta for the event. “You’re playing your roles in the future. From what we have seen, from the track record, Ohio and northwest Ohio, in particular, is doing that job very well, playing that role very well.”
Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, Hancock County Commissioner Phillip Riegle and Iriti accepted awards for the local business growth.
Findlay on March 2 was ranked first for business growth among 575 small cities nationwide in 2014. It won the distinction by luring McLane Co.’s $119 million distribution center, now under construction; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s Global Technical Center; and expansions by Rowmark and Marathon Petroleum Corp.
The four projects will mean hundreds of additional higher-paying jobs in Findlay. They were the highlights among the 20 projects Findlay submitted in the Site Selection competition among “micropolitan” communities. Micropolitan areas are those with populations of 10,000 to 50,000.
Although Findlay has never ranked first before, it typically has been among the tops in the nation. It ranked fourth in 2013 and second in 2012.
Findlay’s good business climate convinced McLane to build its 337,831-square-foot grocery distribution center across Hancock County 212 from Lowe’s Distribution Center, McLane officials said. After the distribution center opens in fall 2016, it will ramp up to 425 employees.
The highly-automated operation will pay an average wage of $57,000 per year plus benefits.
Findlay and Hancock County’s success is the result of cooperation among business and government leaders, Bruns said.
“It’s a team sport,” he said. “You make those connections. You create the conditions for those connections to take place, and it happens incrementally … You can’t be too concerned with who gets the credit.”
Mihalik and Riegle also talked about the importance of teamwork and having good people who put their egos aside to create a good business climate. Mihalik joked about Site Selection’s article announcing its rankings and the article’s title, “Buckeye Bonanza.”
“If we are going to continue with that theme, I got to tell you that I apparently am the Urban Meyer of local government,” she said, drawing audience laughter, “because I have a Heisman Trophy winner that works for me every day.”
She was referring to Service-Safety Director Paul Schmelzer, whom Mihalik called her “best draft pick,” drawing a round of applause.
Riegle said Hancock County will keep doing everything it can to help business grow.
“Hancock County has been and continues to be open for business. And we do everything possible to make that process as seamless as it can be,” he said. “In 2014, we had a tremendous year. But we will not rest on our laurels, and we will work diligently to make 2015 a fantastic success as well.”