Three Ohio counties located in Southeast Ohio were recently recognized for successful economic development outcomes in the year 2020 by Site Selection Magazine, a unit of Conway Data, Inc.
Holmes, Monroe, and Pike counties were rated in the top ten of all U.S. rural counties that experienced economic development growth based upon private project investments with a capital investment of $1 million or more, job creation of 20 new hires, or 20,000 sq. ft. of new buildout by corporate end-users.
“Only 10 rural counties throughout the country registered more than two qualifying investments of $1 million or more and four of those counties are in Ohio,” said Mike Jacoby, President of Ohio Southeast Economic Development (OhioSE). “Southeastern Ohio continues to be on the rise with Holmes County having five qualifying projects, Pike having four, and Monroe County having three,” he said.
Ohio was one of only five states with 11 or more qualifying rural projects, 19 states reported none at all. Williams County in Northwest Ohio was the fourth Ohio County recognized as being in the top 10 rural counties by Site Selection Magazine.
“To be ranked as one of the top 10 performing rural counties in the nation is truly amazing,” said Jason Hamman, Monroe County’s Economic Development Representative. “It’s a testament to the hard work that’s been put in to develop industrial sites and to the local business climate and market opportunities that makes Monroe County a desirable location for business investment.”
Qualifying projects in Monroe County included American Heavy Plates, a rapidly growing steel rolling mill and service center in the Hannibal Industrial Park with nearly 100 employees; Mountaineer NGL, a key component to build-out of the petrochemical industry cluster in the Appalachian Basin; and Ohio-West Virginia Excavating, which moved in after the Monroe County Port Authority purchased and completed all of the due diligence on this former industrial site so that it was shovel ready.
Interviews with officials in the most successful rural counties of 2020 revealed a striking consensus, according to the article authored by Gary Daughters in Site Selectors Magazine. “Without fail, they stressed the need for increased public and private investment in infrastructure, education, workforce development, water and sewer systems, shovel-ready sites, amenities and housing,” it read.
“We were thrilled to learn that Holmes County was recognized by Site Selection magazine as one of the top-performing rural communities in the country,” said Mark Leininger, Executive Director of Holmes County Economic Development Council. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work of the entrepreneurial people in our community. Our business owners are committed to this area and they continue to push themselves to find new and innovative ways to thrive in competitive markets and during challenging times.”
Leininger said he appreciates JobsOhio’s recognition of the importance of supporting small communities like those in Holmes County. “What our community lacks in terms of economic development amenities, such as ample public infrastructure and access to four-lane highways, it more than makes up for with a dedicated and hardworking workforce and an abundance of entrepreneurial people,” he said. “We value our partnership with JobsOhio and OhioSE, and look forward to continuing to work together to support the growth of our local manufacturing sector businesses.”
Qualifying projects in Holmes County included a $1.5 million investment by Keim Lumber to modernize its inventory management system and train employees and a $1.7 million investment by Walnut Creek Foods to construct a 17,000 square foot building addition at its manufacturing and distribution site.
“Rural economies have the potential to create meaningful economic opportunities in the future, yet rural development needs to go beyond the notion of improving agricultural productivity; it must promote agricultural transformation that modernizes and commercializes agriculture, encourage investments in human capital in rural areas, and bolster private enterprise and investment,” said a September 2020 report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“The Site Selection Magazine rankings for rating Pike County in the top ten rural communities in the US was very exciting for Pike County and the region” said Gary Arnett, Director of Pike County Economic & Community Development. “We are grateful that Rural King chose Pike County along with Brew Brothers Trucking. Without all of the support from JEDISCO, Fluor BWXT, OhioSE, and JobsOhio, this would not have been possible. I would like to thank Daphne Mosley, the OhioSE, JEDISO, Fluor-BWXT, and JobsOhio teams for their support for Pike County. We have a great team of professionals that are dedicated to economic growth in Pike County.”
Recent developments in Pike County include Southern Ohio Communication Services, Inc.’s investment to provide last-mile internet service, Brew Brothers Trucking Company’s expansion and purchase of the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) office building, and Rural King’s expanded distribution center in Waverly, which created 75 new jobs.
“The fact that the Ohio Southeast Region represents a third of the top 10 rural counties for economic development projects validates our great business environment here,” Jacoby from OhioSE said. “Our work force, our proximity to markets, and low operating costs make our region a highly attractive location for business growth. We intend to be on this annual list for a long time to come.”
Ohio Southeast Economic Development (OhioSE) is the JobsOhio Network Partner for southern, eastern, and southeastern Ohio, providing economic development work and resources in 25 rural counties; they are the newest and geographically the largest of the six regions across the state. OhioSE partners closely with regional development districts, local economic development offices, state agencies, and other entities to expand, retain, and attract businesses in the counties they serve. www.ohiose.com