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Daisy Plants itself in Wooster

July 11, 2013 in economic development, News

From The Daily Record
by Bobby Warren 

“Months of speculation regarding whether an agbioscience company would locate here officially ended Monday when the state’s tax credit authority granted Daisy Brand, a maker of sour cream and cottage cheese, incentives.

Until Monday, local leaders would only refer to the pending Daisy deal as Project Cream. It all began with a cold call in May 2012.

The Wayne Economic Development Council received a call from the company. There had been a search in the Great Lakes region for a new plant site because of the strong presence of dairy farms and dairy market, said Shawn Starlin, a project manager for WEDC. States that were being considered included Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Company officials did their homework, Starlin said. In determining who to call, they looked at dairy statistics. Wayne County far exceeds all Ohio counties with its production of 600 million pounds of milk annually.

“It’s impressive,” Starlin said.

There were 77,700 cows in Wayne, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Stark and Medina counties as of January 2012. Wayne County has 32,500 of the cows, or 41 percent. The next closest is Holmes with 16,900.

But it took more than impressive dairy numbers to get it done. Company officials visited this area repeatedly, meeting with city and county leaders, economic development officials and utility representatives. They had site visits to the former First Farm along Akron Road next to LuK USA to make sure it would be suitable for a new production facility.

Daisy’s executives were looking for something else, too, something less tangible.

“They wanted to look at a facility in a small town or one with small-town values,” Starlin said…”

Click to read this article in its entirety, as well as others on The Daily Record

Ashtabula County’s Pairings Initiative

May 21, 2013 in Collaboration, economic development, News, Quality Connected Places

Located along Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania border in Northeastern Ohio, Ashtabula County is Ohio’s largest in terms of land area. However, it is not only the size of Ashtabula County that makes it unique among all Ohio counties. Its location and topography bestow upon it the most unique microclimate in the region. Situated where the Lake Erie escarpment is closest to the lake provides gradual warming temperatures in the spring and warm lake-effect air in the fall. This moderating microclimate and above-average to ideal soil conditions are perfect for growing grapes. Perched atop the remnants of glacial beaches and covered with vines planted over generations, the Lake Erie and Grand River Valley grape growing regions are the largest in Ohio. Ashtabula County alone produces 65% of all Ohio’s grapes.[1] Here lies the heart of Ohio wine country, where agriculture, economic development and tourism have come together through community collaboration to celebrate one of Northeast Ohio’s most valuable assets.

In 2008, a passionate group of business and civic community leaders began meeting to discuss opportunities for encouraging economic and community development initiatives for historic downtown Geneva, in Ashtabula County. With national, regional and local trends all indicating an increase in the popularity of wine and culinary tourism, the vision of creating a wine and culinary center was born. Northeast Ohio is home to 68% of Ohio’s nearly 2,000 grape-bearing acres, while Geneva and Ashtabula County are home to twenty wineries and counting. In fact, in 2007, Orbitz ranked the Grand River Viticulture Area in Ohio as the 6th favorite destination in the United States for culinary tourists.[2] The upshot of the past four years of collaboration is Pairings, Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience.

Pairings will eventually be a 38,000-square-foot non-profit culinary and education center on the old site of Geneva Elementary School. The center will include restaurant and banquet facilities, cooking classes, wine making demonstrations, incubator facilities for start-up wineries, educational culinary demonstrations, office space and a gift shop. The project will begin with a start-up “Windows on Pairings,” which will incorporate a barn currently on the property to help develop the facility’s business plan and hone its vision. According to Director Jennifer Brown, this has been an eventful week for Pairings, as the center became the pending lessee of the former Geneva Elementary property and gained another major sponsor, Debonne Vineyards.

For more information about Pairings, please contact Jennifer Brown at jbrown@pairingsohio.com or visit the Pairings website at www.pairingsohio.org. For more information about the Ohio wine industry, please contact Ohio Wine Producers Association Executive Director and Pairings Board Trustee, Donniella “Donnie” Winchell (dwinchell@pairingsohio.org). For more information about Ashtabula County tourism, please contact Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director and Pairings Board President, Mark Winchell (mwinchell@pairingsohio.org).

The image below is a rendering of Pairings when complete. Construction on “Windows on Pairings” is scheduled to begin this fall.


[1] Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau (retrieved 5.17.2013 from http://visitashtabulacounty.com/).

[2] Pairings, Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience (retrieved 5.17.2013 from http://www.pairingsohio.org/backgroundandlocation.html).

Fund releases “What Matters to Metros” Report

May 8, 2013 in economic development, Engagement, News

Economic research plays an essential role in guiding the work of the Fund Fund for Our Economic Future, and helps them identify what matters and other key priorities in their work to advance a growing, opportunity-rich economy for the people of Northeast Ohio.  

What Matters to Metros™: Foundational Indicators for Economic Competitiveness helps community leaders identify factors that are associated with economic growth in mid-sized U.S. metropolitan areas in a post-recession economy.

Download the Fund’s report and its appendices.

This work builds upon six previous iterations (called the Dashboard of Economic Indicators) and assesses the relationship of 55 variables to economic growth across four measures: per capita income, gross metropolitan product (GMP), productivity and employment, between 1990 and 2011.

  • Together, higher education and innovation remain critical ingredients for prosperous, productive communities that generate higher incomes, but are not associated with overall job growth over the period.
  • Many metros that experienced high levels of employment growth did not necessarily see these jobs translate into higher incomes; in fact, inequality, poverty and crime tended to be more prevalent in those metro areas that saw the most job gains.
  • Entrepreneurship and local business development, particularly in metro areas with more diverse and/or integrated populations, is associated with every measure of growth: jobs, income, productivity and GMP.

What Matters to Metros™ can serve civic leaders in metros throughout the United States, but the research bears specific implications for the four largest metropolitan areas in Northeast Ohio: Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown. This research provides data that civic leaders and the Fund can use to ask more strategic questions about how “growth” can be pursued, and to identify their own distinct approaches to get there.

What Matters to Metros

A complete, sortable set of data used in What Matters to Metros™ is available for download. Please visit the Fund’s website for information on how to access the data.

What Matters to Metros™ is a comprehensive analysis of 115 mid-sized metropolitan areas between 1990 and 2011. Data, provided by Moodys.com, is available to help better understand your metro area and how it compares to others.

The Fund will be hosting community forums with partners in Northeast Ohio’s four metros in June 2013:

Canton
June 5, 9:30a-11:30a at the Stark Community Foundation (400 Market Ave N, Canton, OH 44702)
Partners:  Stark Community Foundation and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce

Warren/Youngstown
June 20, 8:30a-10:30a, D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center, Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks (123 McKinley Avenue, Youngstown, OH  44509)
Partners:  The Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Trumbull 100

Akron
June 24, 10a-12n Quaker Square Inn (135 S Broadway St., Akron, OH 44325)
Partners:  Akron Community Foundation and the University of Akron

Cleveland
June 28, 8a-10a, location TBD
Partners:  Saint Luke’s Foundation and The Community Foundation of Lorain County

Contact Emily Garr to keep up to date with Fund research.

Thriving Communities Institute: From Vacancy to Vitality

March 19, 2013 in ACT, Conditions and Trends, economic development, Housing, News, Toolkiit

In 2011, the Western Reserve Land Conservancy launched an effort to combat the devastating impact of abandonment and disinvestment on Northeast Ohio’s core cities. Entitled the “Thriving Communities Institute,” the initiative targeted the reduction of vacant residential properties, primarily through demolition. These properties, according to Institute Director Jim Rokakis, reduce property values in our neighborhoods. Studies show that one vacant property on a street will significantlyreduce the value of adjacent homes. Soon, due to loss of value, foreclosures and “bank walk-aways,” the nearby homes become vacant as the disease spreads. Soon the entire neighborhood is dead and diseased, having been destroyed by this contagious and toxic process. Then the adjacent areas are infected and the disease spreads further … predictably, relentlessly, and with devastating consequences.

The impact of disinvestment in the urban core also has negative implications for the region’s natural environment. Depressed urban markets drive potential residents further away from the center and into suburban and exurban communities. The demand for housing and retail services away from the core increases development pressure on previously undeveloped open spaces and agricultural lands. The abandoned housing left behind prevents reuse of urban properties for urban gardens, parks, and greenways. Residential vacancies cause unnecessary consumption of “greenfield” land for development while prohibiting the repurposing of unoccupied land for environmental remediation; it is a two-edged sword.

According to Director Jim Rokakis, Thriving Communities Institute is already lending its hand to transform vacant and unproductive properties into new opportunities to attract economic growth, to bring green space to the region’s cities, and to support safe, beautiful neighborhoods. In working with community leaders in Northeast Ohio, the Institute has learned that urban revitalization is a process, one with many steps supported by great partnerships. Thriving Communities is helping secure vacant, unhealthy properties by establishing and supporting county land banks throughout the region. County land banks provide counties with much-needed ability to quickly acquire foreclosed and vacant property. These land banks can safely hold a distressed property, clean its title, and prepare it for a better day. The goal is to secure vacant properties – which would otherwise attract crime, lower neighboring home values, and incur public services costs – so that they can be put to better use in the future.

Additional information about the Thriving Communities Institute is available through their website: http://thrivingcommunitiesinstitute.org/. This site includes opportunities to provide support, become better engaged, and share stories or photographs. Questions about the Institute may be directed to either Jim Rokakis (jrokakis@wrlandconservancy.org) or Robin Thomas (rthomas@wrlandconservancy.org).

What Can I Do Today?

Defining Northeast Ohio Cluster Opportunities in the Ag-Bio Sector

March 1, 2013 in economic development, News

Northeast Ohio is home to a broad set of players in the agricultural-bioscience (ag-bio) sector, one of the largest and most influential sectors in the region. To better understand the potential of this diverse sector, the Fund for Our Economic Future  sponsored an assessment to facilitate a more informed dialogue around the definition and scope of the ag-bio sector in Northeast Ohio, and identify high-potential areas which merit further exploration and/or investment.

Based on a review of regional assets and potential opportunities by the Bush Consulting Group, the research suggests economic development efforts might focus on three areas of opportunity that could favorably impact the region’s economy, environment and labor diversity:

  • Export-oriented cluster development opportunities such as packaged food and food safety, hardwood, and bio-polymers and composites
  • Import substitution in local foods and beverage including beer, wine and spirits; and dairy-related industries
  • Early stage support and start-ups such as alternative natural rubbers and latex

Read the full report to learn more about the recommendations.

Questions, comments? Ideas for further exploration or audiences? Contact Emily Garr, Manager of Research, Grants & Evaluation, at the Fund.

About the Fund for Our Economic Future 
A philanthropic collaboration, the Fund for Our Economic Future develops, supports and sustains effective efforts that promote good jobs, vibrant cities/communities and equitable access to opportunities for the people of Northeast Ohio.

What Can I Do Today?