Matt Gilroy, Fulton County Economic Development Corporation executive director, said the Archbold area is attracting the attention of retail businesses.
Interviewed yesterday, Tuesday, Gilroy said there is “nothing definite that is ready to announce.
“I don’t know exactly what this is, but retail seems to be a really hot thing in Archbold right now.
“Looking at it from an industry perspective, we’ve been contacted about parcels of land and building and so on, in the retail sector.
“Hopefully, knock on wood, that will lead to a few additional storefronts in Archbold.”
Discount Drug Mart, a chain of more than 70 drug and general merchandise stores based in Medina, announced plans to construct a $3 million, 28,000 squarefoot store, with additional storefronts.
The site for the project is vacant land at 705 South Defiance Street, on the southwest corner of the South Defiance Street-Lafayette Street intersection, across from St. John’s Christian Church.
The timeline announced by the company is to break ground in the fall, and be open for business in late spring/ early summer of 2020.
Otherwise, Gilroy said there are “a few things, nothing I can comment on, but there are definitely some possibilities, I think, in the near future in Archbold. Some really exciting opportunities.”
Countywide, Gilroy said North Star Blue Scope Steel, located in the “Steel Industry Cluster” of Fulton County west of Delta on US20A, is considering an expansion.
“They are working hard to try to figure out if an expansion is the right move for their company. We’ve been engaged with public officials at every level,” said Gilroy.
“Last week, North Star officials and myself met with the lieutenant governor (John Husted) to share some information about what they are potentially thinking.”
If North Star does decide to expand, it will attract other businesses.
“The ancillary (businesses) are just as exciting,” he said.
“North Star, like Sauder (Woodworking)– they’re our anchor companies that tend to draw in suppliers and draw in customers.
“I think it’s really promising when an anchor company is expanding. That typically leads to other companies in their industry expanding, as well.
“There are companies, suppliers, customers, and so on that are looking at properties throughout the county that would benefit from the steel mill expansion possibility.
“Basically, we’re just saying there’s an overall strong expansion within manufacturing and distribution.
“So, knock on wood, hopefully those projects come to fruition. We’re busy working on several things right now.”
A shortage of available workers has been a recognized problem, but not just for Fulton County.
“Even when I get to a metropolitan area– Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and so on– their economic development folks are concerned about workforce attraction as well. So it’s a challenge, just overall, in our economy,” he said.
“If you’ve been watching the monthly unemployment rate, you know it’s increased in Fulton County, in northwest Ohio, and in general in the last couple of months.
“That’s seasonal for the most part. I anticipate that’s going to fall back to the low fours (4%) here in the next couple of months as the construction industry gets going again and the seasonal work begins.”
The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services announced unemployment in Fulton County was 6% in January, the highest rate in the county in 23 months.
The February rate, announced yesterday, Tuesday, was 5.3%, a drop of seven tenths of one percentage point.
“I’m anticipating we’ll be back to around 4 to 4.2 (percent unemployment),” he said.
NatureFresh– the large greenhouse operation near Delta– is utilizing overseas workers at its facility.
Foreign workers at NatureFresh are in the United States on the H2A visa program.
“It’s a federal program where they bring in seasonal workers from various countries. I believe, for the most part, Guatemala is where most of their folks are from,” Gilroy said.
“Right now, they have about 175 workers. Out of the 175, 55 are under the H2A program.
“So they still have about 120 local folks working at their Delta facility.”