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‘Shovel-Ready’ Sites Boost Business Growth in Northwest Ohio

by on January 17, 2018
AEP’s Tim Wells, second from left, presents the first Food & Beverage Certified Site designation to the Lima economic development group.

(Story by Scott Fuller)

Food processing companies have invested $578 million dollars in Northwest Ohio during the past three years, bringing more than 1,600 new jobs to the area. Smucker’s, Heinz and ConAgra are some of the big-name brands that continue to grow there.

Behind the scenes, AEP Ohio has helped play a pivotal role in making it happen.

For example, AEP Ohio is working in conjunction with Austin Consulting and the Regional Growth Partnership to identify and develop “shovel-ready” industrial sites. Their “Food & Beverage Certified Site” designation assures prospective companies that the location has passed a comprehensive review that includes infrastructure, transportation, environmental factors and community assets. The goal is to complete much of the due diligence on qualified sites, which reduces risk for prospective companies and allows them to get facilities up and operational more quickly.

“Available infrastructure is important to all manufacturers. Our certification program places additional emphasis on water and sewer availability to these sites, which is a key factor for food processors,” said Tim Wells, manager of economic and business development for AEP. “We want to show prospective customers that they are getting a development-ready site with no surprises.  Northwest Ohio’s thriving agribusiness ecosystem, existing supply chain and qualified workforce make these sites even more marketable to companies in this business sector.”

The strategy worked with Campbell’s: the famous soup maker is now building a $44 million, 750,000-sqaure-foot distribution center in Findlay, Ohio, that will be completed in the spring and employ 220 workers.

Findlay is only one of five sites that AEP Ohio is offering to food and beverage companies. Others in Van Wert, Lima, Bucyrus and Tiffin are all being promoted as ideal locations for investment. Northwest Ohio is desirable for many reasons: transportation and logistics advantages; a supply chain that includes nearly 250 food companies in the region; an abundance of natural resources; research and innovation centers close by; and a lower state tax burden that makes the cost of doing business more affordable.

But the food processing industry is not the only one AEP is targeting. In all, the AEP Economic and Business Development team is promoting 45 certified sites across the company’s 11-state territory. Nine of the 45 sites are in AEP Ohio’s service territory, including the Campbell’s site in Findlay.

“Our efforts are continuing to bring successes for AEP, AEP Ohio and the communities we serve. And we’re expecting more wins in 2018,” Wells said. “The programs are great for the company and they’re great for the areas where our customers live and work. But they are succeeding only because of our most important asset: the outstanding economic development team we have assembled from across the company. It’s a true team effort.”

From → News From AEP

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