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Merger talks, Findlay recognition

The on, then off, discussions between Findlay and Hancock County officials about combining health departments appear to be on again.
While that isn’t necessarily something to get excited about, considering such talks have been going on for years, there appear to be signs that this might be the time a merger actually happens. Count us as among those with our fingers crossed.
Earlier this week, it was reported the District Advisory Council, which oversees Hancock County’s Health Department, has agreed to “cooperate and participate” in a study with the City of Findlay to determine if a single entity can better serve the health needs of all county residents.
Ed Ingold, a former county commissioner who is now president of the county’s health board, acknowledged the advisory council had agreed to resume the conversation.
While both sides would have to agree on how the two entities would be combined, the development is encouraging considering the advisory council voted in 2010 against a merger, and put off more talks with Findlay officials in 2012 to come up with its own proposal.
Granted, consensus is not easy with a large group. The advisory council includes 29 members, comprised of village mayors, one county commissioner and trustee chairs from all 17 townships.
Until a decision is reached, the city’s Health Department will continue to operate from a rented building at 1644 Tiffin Ave., Suite A, and the county’s Health Department at 7748 Hancock County 140.
The county spent about $60,000 to relocate its department from the Tiffin Avenue building it shared with the city to county-owned “cottages.” Findlay, meanwhile, is paying about $36,000 per year to rent the Tiffin Avenue office.
In May 2011, the city bought a building to house its Health Department at 428 W. Main Cross St. for $270,000, but never completed that move because of high renovating costs.
Efforts to combine the two health departments, which offer many of the same services, have been made many times.
Miscommunication, distrust, turf battles, and politics have all played a part in past failed efforts. All that bad blood would become irrelevant, though, if a merger agreement can be worked out now.
For everyone’s sake, let’s hope it is.
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People who live and work in Hancock County know this area has been on the rebound for some time now. But when increased job growth, investment and building expansion are noticed by outsiders, it’s particularly encouraging.
Site Selection magazine listed Findlay No. 4 in the nation in its 2013 rankings of U.S. micropolitan communities, a recognition that should only help future economic development efforts.
Findlay has been near the top of Site’s annual rankings before. It was No. 2 in 2012, No. 6 in 2011 and No. 25 in 2010.
But cracking the top five again shows we’re doing something better than most others when it comes to growing business opportunities. Findlay was among 576 in the micropolitan category, which includes communities with populations between 10,000 and 50,000.
Findlay had 15 projects which qualified for Site’s ranking, but three of them, at Whirlpool Corp., Centrex Plastics and Nissin Brake, made us stand out. Collectively, those three plants added 300 employees, and Whirlpool alone spent $10 million on investments.
Findlay’s efforts, along with Wooster, which ranked No. 1 among micropolitan communities, contributed to Ohio’s No. 2 ranking among the states. Ohio was No. 1 in 2011 and No. 2 in 2010.
Site magazine is a well-respected trade publication that is read by CEOs, corporate real estate executives and facility planners, human resource managers and consultants to corporations. Being mentioned near the top of the list again will put Ohio and Findlay on the radar of companies looking to expand or move.
That could translate to even more business for the area. Perhaps a year from now, Findlay and Ohio will be No. 1.

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