By WILLIAM LANEY
The economic development gun is loaded with potential projects, a Wapakoneta business leader says, but site selection consultants and company executives are cautious to pull the trigger in light of current economic conditions.
Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council (WAEDC) Executive Director Greg Myers, who recently attended a conference in Chicago as a member of the Dayton Development Coalition, said he hoped to gain valuable information and an advantage at the site consultant conference in Chicago, although WAEDC still continues to get leads from its site consulting firm ROI of Montreal.
“The consultants in Chicago said there are still projects that are being discussed and research being done, but very few are what they call ‘pulling the trigger on a project,’ actually saying they are going to purchase this piece of ground or this building and we are going to move forward right now,” Myers said. “It is like everybody is still very tentative as to what they may do in the future.”
The nation’s recession is likely causing executives to be cautious, although world-wide economic indicators are showing signs the recession is loosening its grip.
Seven members of the Dayton Development Coalition attended the conference and visited with executives from 12 firms. Members spent between an hour and 90 minutes.
Myers explained the benefits to them of the West Central Ohio Industrial Center, the Job Ready Sites industrial park.
With the economic climate, Myers said he believes executives are checking their prognostications and continuing to research potential project sites.
“I think they are looking more in-depth at what tax incentives are available and what type of tax reform has been done in the past few years,” Myers said. “We stressed how much Ohio has accomplished, noting of the seven Midwestern states that Ohio has the lowest corporate operating taxes now.
“We wanted them all to know that, we wanted them all to understand that and were factoring that into their matrix of which site provides the most benefit to the client,” he said.
The time spent with site consultants and executives in Chicago permitted Myers and others of the coalition to inquire how they could better assist them.
He said company representatives gave them a series of pointers, with their first two pieces of advice focused on the labor market. Site consultants and company executives wanted a list of human resource managers in the community so they could learn more about the employment patterns, quality of work force and the overall employment atmosphere.
They also sought names of staffing agencies they could contact about the local labor force.
WAEDC’s consulting firm ROI executives also continue to update Myers on businesses seeking sites, but their clients’ hesitancy matches those feelings shared by executives at the conference.
Myers said the majority of leads coming from ROI are from Europe whose “company executives are thinking about either establishing or expanding a U.S. presence, but they, too, are waiting to see what happens in the next six months to a year.”