Economic development in Fulton County is limited to small gains of five to 10 new jobs here and there.
And while some companies are on the edge of needing to expand, “no one is pulling the trigger,” Perry Rupp, a Fulton County commissioner, said Monday, April 1, at a joint meeting of the county commissioners and Archbold Village Council.
When Ed Leininger, a councilman, asked about job creation in the county, Rupp said he sees more help wanted signs, but there are not a lot of big projects.
Firms are only expanding when it’s a necessity to serve their customers.
Rupp said officials at North Star Steel, near Delta, have talked about adding to their plant for a long time, but no decision has been made.
Fulton Processing, a steel processing plant near Delta, has also talked about adding another production line.
One company opened in an existing building in Delta.
Originally, Rupp said it thought it would have about 30 employees; the company now has 50.
Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, said a deal is in the works to bring a small company into the former Noble Automotive plant on the south side .
Howell said it might employ a dozen people.
Howell said during Archbold’s high-growth years, 90% to 95% of village job growth came from companies that were already in the village.
Paul Barnaby, a commissioner, said unemployment in Fulton County had recently spiked upward.
The Ohio Department of Job & Family Services reported unemployment jumped from below 8% to 10.5% in January 2013.
It dropped to 9.2% in February.
Barnaby said the county’s real unemployment rate is probably closer to 20%.
His 20% estimate factors in people who have become too discouraged to look for work, and those who don’t want to go back to work because they would rather collect unemployment “than get up and go to work in the morning.”
Rupp said many sites for business relocation or expansion are not picked by the company relocating or expanding but rather by a site selection service, which uses computers to develop decisions.
“The personal touch is not there,” he said.
Kevin Eicher, a councilman, said there is intense competition to lure a business to a community.
“Every town and every state are knocking on their doors. All of them are offering whatever they can to get them to take a look,” Eicher said.
“Cheap energy, reasonable labor, and quality of life,” Howell said.
“Those are the big factors.”– David Pugh