2008-12-10 / Business

Arend Says Talk With Fisher Went Well Tues.

Lisa Arend, Fulton County director of economic development, said about a dozen representatives of Fulton County manufacturing firms expressed their concerns to Lee Fisher, Ohio lieutenant governor.

Arend said one of the topics that came up during the Tuesday meeting in Wauseon was the Healthy Families Act.

Originally proposed earlier this year as an Ohio-only initiative petition, backers of the proposal removed it from the ballot at the last minute after intervention from Ted Strickland, Ohio governor; Fisher; and Sherrod Brown, senator (D-Ohio).

But the Healthy Families Act is now being considered at the federal level, which could make it law in all 50 states.

The Healthy Families Act would require employers to provide paid sick days to their employees. Traditionally, parttime workers do not receive paid sick days. Employers have complained if passed, the HFA would drive up employer costs.

Arend said employers "need help to minimize the cost" of the HFA.

Several representatives discussed what would happen locally if the Big Three automakers- Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors- fail.

Several Fulton County businesses supply the auto industry; if the Big Three shut down, it would have a negative effect on Fulton County.

Overview

Arend said Fisher gave the representatives an overview of some of the programs available to assist local firms.

Another topic that was discussed was moving Fulton County's industrial plants into the business of making parts for giant windmills or wind turbines.

Arend said Fulton County's efforts related to wind energy are not related to "setting up a humungous number of wind farms; it will be aimed at getting involved in the manufacturing of wind turbines.

"There's machining that has to be done, there's welding that has to be done; they obviously need steel. We need to get connected in this area," she said.

Forum

Arend said she would like to have a regional forum, where Fulton County business representatives would meet with representatives of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Workers' Compensation, the departments of Transportation and Agriculture, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

"Everyone will be at the same table. If someone has a question, someone will have an answer or a direction to an answer," she said.

She said Fulton County has training money available through her office.

"We'd be happy to see how we can help," she said.

Overall, she said there's no job Fulton County manufacturers and work force can't tackle.

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