By JOY BROWN
Businesses made more than $76 million in capital investments last year in Hancock County, and 544 jobs were created via 21 projects, the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance reported Wednesday at its annual lunch.
Eighteen of the 21 projects involved expansion of existing companies, the Alliance said.
The organization did not provide figures for the number of jobs lost last year, but the unemployment rate in Hancock County fell to 5.2 percent in December and employment increased to 38,100, “the highest number of people employed since 2008,” the Alliance’s economic development office said.
This year, continued downtown growth, combined with industrial development and global outreach, are the goals of the Alliance as it tweaks its organization for better performance.
It also hopes to recruit other groups, businesses and governments to join in a community-wide push toward performance excellence, using the nationally recognized Baldrige Program.
At the annual lunch, Alliance leaders said they intend to capitalize on and improve the region’s economic attractiveness by developing another industrial park, applying to be in the state’s Main Street program, emphasizing travel and tourism opportunities here, and courting investors from other countries.
Findlay’s downtown will continue to be an integral part of the group’s efforts to retain and attract businesses.
A Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation grant, coupled with Downtown Findlay Improvement District support, allowed the hiring last year of Main Street Findlay coordinator Maria Reza, who serves as a liaison and public relations worker.
The Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, part of the Alliance, intends to apply this year to Heritage Ohio for inclusion in the Ohio Main Street program, which advises downtowns on how to revitalize, and offers grants and networking opportunities.
The Hancock County Convention and Visitors Bureau, another Alliance arm, hopes to make website upgrades, renew a focus on sporting events here, have a larger trade show and event presence, and launch a collaborative billboard project along I-75.
The Alliance is in the beginning stages of applying for a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, and will serve as the coordinator for a community-wide effort toward performance excellence that would be the first in Ohio, said Al Faber, president and CEO of The Partnership for Excellence, which oversees Baldrige Program assessments in Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia.
Findlay-Hancock County Alliance:
The Balridge Award:
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