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Efforts are constant to create and keep jobs in the county PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, December 01, 2013 9:00 PM

BY ED GEBERT

Times Bulletin Editor

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VAN WERT — After spending nearly 11 months as Van Wert County Economic Development Director, Cindy Leis is as optimistic as ever about the future of Van Wert County. She took over the position during the first part of January after the office had been open for 70 percent of 2012.

“This year for me in this office has been a huge learning experience and by that I mean learning about the community, learning about the service clubs, meeting people, understanding the dynamics of the county,” she reported.

At this point, Leis knows her way around the county. She knows the available buildings that could host a potential business. And she has plenty of connections, both among businesspersons and state officials, as she looks to bring jobs to the county.

It’s not an easy task, especially with a few businesses shutting down, just as others are starting up. In this past year, the area has had several closings to deal with like Carter Lumber, Pick ‘n Save, Derry Drugs, Pizza John’s and Three Rivers Federal Credit Union. However, there have been plenty of new businesses as well. Ribbons have been cut at Label Shopper, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Embroidery Coop, Little Caesar’s, Hall’s Custom Cut Meats and several other shops. Remodeling and expansion projects have also been completed.

Leis stated, “The focus of this office has got to be job creation, as well as investments and expansions.”

She admitted that there is more to come, hinting about a business expansion project that will likely be announced in the next 30 days, and several other announcements which could be coming soon. One Ohio restaurateur is looking closely at sites on the south and north sides of Van Wert. And there is a lot of interest from persons wanting to begin a business.

“The entrepreneur fair has been successful,” Leis said. “We get calls on a regular basis from people wanting to start a business.”

Another source is the state. JobsOhio submit leads to the County ED office and Leis looks for facilities which would fit the requirements submitted by a company. On this day, a lead has been sent to the office looking for office and manufacturing space for an international corporation. Just a quick glance at the requirements and Leis has two buildings in mind that should meet the requirements being put forward by that company.

“This one may have kind of been an easier one but we get these and they are really trying to match this company with exactly what they are searching for,” Leis explained. “We may never hear back or the state may never even hear back but this gives the company a chance to get what they desire. We have about seven of these leads that are active right now.”

Patience is a must in economic development. At present Leis is hoping to make at least one announcement this week but delays can often pop up.

The Van Wert Super Site has seen plenty of delays but is now just days away from finishing phase two of the certification process. Utility work and the railroad spur are almost completed. The third and final stage should be completed in the new few months.

“We have had site consultants out to see the site and they have been very happy with it.” Leis stated. “And the state has already invested millions of dollars in it, they’re not going to forget about it.”

Leis’ main focus this year has been to work with and service the larger employers in the county. She keeps track of local jobs figures by contacting the top 30 employers in the county rather than simply depend on the state figures which do not even scratch the surface of real job situations in the county. And those job numbers have improved in the past year, although the increases have not always hit the headlines.

The next few months could have several newsworthy announcements, hinted Leis. However, the work is going on every day to keep Van Wert County residents on the job and to bring in new jobs.

Leis summarized, “From our perspective here in this office is just to stay with our priorities of jobs and retention of current businesses and attracting businesses.”

 

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