The Van Wert County Courthouse

Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018

VWAEDC holds 2018 annual meeting

DAVE MOSIER/independent editor

It was a night of numbers and economic development highlights as the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation (VWAEDC) held its annual meeting in Vantage Career Center’s Community Room.

Sue Gerker from the Van Wert County Economic Development Office talks about the Van Wert Works website during the annual meeting of the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation held Tuesday evening at Vantage Career Center. Dave Mosier/Van Wert independent

A number of business and community representatives were on hand as Executive Director Stacy Adam and her staff provided information on the organization’s results over the past year. VWAEDC members could also renew their memberships prior to the start of Tuesday’s event.

Adam began with some numbers that were mostly positive, although some of them could represent future problems for Van Wert County.

While the county’s population again saw a decrease, a total of 396 over the past five years and a projected decline of another 243 over the next half-decade, the county actually added 1,047 jobs over the past five years (11,989 total), with projections showing a gain of another 490 over the next five years. The county’s average family income of $50,500 is $4,800 below the national average of $55,300, Adam noted, but said that’s offset by the county’s extremely low cost of living.

Adam also talked some of the county’s demographics, noting that the county has a below-average Millennial population (4,846, versus the average of 5,886), an above average population of those retiring soon (5,295 versus the average of 4,322), and low diversity (1,649 residents, versus the average of 10,985 for an area the size of Van Wert County).

On the other hand, the county has a higher than average population of military veterans (2,209 veterans versus the average of 1,674), and a below average for violent crime (1.37 per 1,000 versus the average of 3.75 per 1,000) and property crime (16.68 per 1,000, versus the average of 24.22 per 1,000).

Adam also talked about the focus of the VWAEDC during 2018, which includes the following:

  • Seeking new businesses with 50-200 employees
  • Assisting existing businesses to grow and stay
  • Partnering with area economic development organizations
  • Promoting the Revolving Loan Fund and Land Bank programs
  • Seeking solutions to improve the county’s residential housing inventory
  • Completing an upgrade to the county economic development website

Adam then turned the meeting over to her staff so they could take about the programs they administer.

First up was Krista Somerton, who coordinates the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF).

Somerton noted that the program provides up to 50 percent of a project’s total cost, up to a maximum of $25,000 per job created. The program can loan money to traditional corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and LLCs in the county, and at least one local lender must participate.

Somerton noted that $445,000 has been loaned to Van Wert businesses, along with a $100,000 economic development loan, while the local organization has an open application for an additional $407,000 in development money with the Ohio Department Services Agency (ODSA).

Next up was JoAnne Simmerman, who administers the Van Wert Area Land Reutilization Corporation (land bank). Simmerman noted that the program has now acquired 42 properties, with 16 of those already demolished. The program has also reduced delinquent property taxes from 2.7 percent to 1.54 percent, she  noted.

Because of its success, the county land bank program received an additional $500,000 reimbursement grant in November 2017, in addition to the initial grant of $500,000, and an additional $150,000 in March of this year.

Adam said there is one more opportunity to receive additional funding from the program at the end of this year, but noted that all projects need to be completed and reimbursed by the end of December 2019.

Sue Gerker, who works in the county economic development office, provided a report on the Van Wert Works website (www.vanwertworks.com), noting that the site offers free job and resume posting, as well as business and community links, a student link, and a phone app.

Gerker noted that use of the website has increased substantially over the past year.

Adam said a county development website is in the works, with funding in part coming from a grant from AEP.

Adam ended the meeting with an update on local business development, noting that Eaton has added 175 employees over the past year, Federal-Mogul has added a $5 million phoscoating line and 80 employees, Braun Industries merged with Canadian ambulance maker Demers, and has added a new production line and 25 new employees. Cooper Farms has also increased its oven capacity by 20 percent.

Van Wert is also the site of a new subdivision that is expected to provide 300 new homes in the coming years.

Adam said the county gained $25 million in capital investment, including a 100,000-square-foot spec building now being completed on Grill Road, and gained a net of 142 new jobs and $4 million in new payroll.

Adam also cited the local schools’ Career Education Opportunity (CEO) program begun at Van Wert City Schools, but which will be expanded to Crestview and Lincolnview this fall; and a Business Advisory Council started this year that will include a number of top executives of local companies, including Eaton and Van Wert Health.

Adam also noted her office is also working with a local group to come up with a strategic plan for the county.

POSTED: 06/13/18 at 8:28 am. FILED UNDER: News