Board members of a local economic development organization faced a decision of teaming up with Toledo or Dayton as part of regionalization of Gov. John Kasich’s JobsOhio reform of Ohio’s government.
Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council (WAEDC) members decided the best interests of the city would be served by pairing with the Toledo region, one of six in the state under JobsOhio, WAEDC Executive Director Greg Myers told the Wapakoneta Daily News. Since Auglaize County is a border county, Kasich offered economic development entities the option of which region they could align with under his reform to privatize the work of the Ohio Department of Development.
Myers said aligning their economic development efforts with Toledo made the most sense to WAEDC board members because the Toledo Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) permitted a group of counties within the region to maintain their autonomy.
“Our little Region 3 group, which is comprised of eight counties from Hancock County down to Auglaize County and Hardin County to the Ohio-Indiana state line, we didn’t feel we would be well suited to align with a metro Toledo or metro Dayton market because we are so different,” Myers said. “But when the RGP said we don’t really want to be the umbrella for all of northwest Ohio and they said they were willing to contract with the existing Region 3 partners be your own economic development organization within west-central Ohio — create your own identity, implement your own marketing programs, your own retention and expansion programs — all the things JobsOhio requires you to do then you can do it independent of us and we will just act as your fiscal agent.
“That was pretty en
ticing for us,” he said. “Now some serious in-state funding is going to provide the means to do that, to develop and initiate those programs.”
Myers said the members of Region 3, which includes the WAEDC, will subcontract and be a part of the Toledo region under JobsOhio regional
Myers also noted he would continue to be in contact with leaders of the Dayton region because of Wapakoneta’s proximity to the city 60 miles to the south.
The advantage of Region 3 economic development entities being able to subcontract with Toledo is the existing Region 3 counties are rural communities with more in common with each other than they have in common with a large city so their marketing and selling efforts are more closely related.
“The plan is the Jobs-Ohio regions will pick up the ball because of the funding following it and we will determine what the resources are within the region, how we can leverage our dollars to get those resources where they need to be, market those resources and identify companies that would like to bring jobs to Ohio,” Myers aid. “Those efforts will both be regionalized and privatized.
“JobsOhio will still be developing the overall marketing strategy for the state, but the actually feet on the ground will be in the individual regions,” he said. “Our goal is to create good jobs for Wapakoneta.”
Under Kasich’s plan, state money will be distributed to the large metropolitan regions for marketing, retention and expansion programs, and Myers anticipates a portion of the money going to the northwest Ohio region, or Toledo region, being distributed to the existing Region 3 sub-group.
“We discussed today how we can best translate successful economic development activities under the new JobsOhio program and our alignment with northwest Ohio to make things happen,” Myers said.
He also discussed the fact the 471-acre Job Ready Sites manufacturing site as one of the prime properties in the state and would be a gem in the region. He said the marketing and attraction activities is shifting to Ohio Sales Partnership as well as continued work by CB Richard Ellis, the nation’s largest commercial retailer contracted by the city.