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Wednesday, February 06, 2013 8:21 PM

Official: County needs more land to market

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer

A 1-28 record might not be good in basketball, but it is as far as economic development is concerned.

Of the 28 interested parties that looked at Franklin County as a place to locate their businesses, one made the move, Jeff Seymour, Franklin County Development Council director, said. And it was worth the local group’s efforts, he said.

“We did have one success last year with the agreement with Monoflo in the old Kennel-Aire building,” Seymour recently told the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. “Overall, that’s a good project for our community.”

Franklin County contracts economic development services from the development council at an annual cost of $60,000. As part of the contract between the two entities, a representative from the council is required to present quarterly updates to the board.

Monoflo International, a plastic products manufacturer, is one of the 28 new projects that approached the FCDC last year. Those projects include one bio-science project, three customer service projects, two distribution center projects, one information technology-based company, 18 manufacturing projects and three other projects, Seymour said.

Monoflo is in the process of retrofitting the building at 1550 N. Davis Ave., Ottawa, and working with the City of Ottawa on getting its project up and going, Seymour said. Monoflo is expected to start hiring this quarter, Seymour said. The total number of jobs brought to the region is expected to be about 65 during the next five years.

With Monoflo moving into Ottawa’s Industrial Park, Seymour said, the options for other businesses to make the same kind of move are limited. The former Kennel-Aire LLC facility was the last of the vacant large buildings in the park. The situation demonstrates the need for the city and county to continue their efforts to provide more shovel-ready land in the industrial park to entice potential employers.

“We’ve got one approximately 32,000-square-foot building on 15th street; it’s zoned light industrial,” Seymour said. “But other than that, we really don’t have any building inventory left.”

There are about 16.5 acres left in the current industrial park, he said. Looking ahead, the development council is focusing on additional industrial land acquisitions, he said. The organization is planning to move ahead with some more targeted marketing in the future to try and draw in potential businesses. The lack of land is the main concern, however, he said.

“As a community, I will tell you ... until we have some property, buildings and/or land, to market it’s kind of a moot point,” Seymour said.

Balance sheets show $203,000 on the Franklin County Development Council’s books, Seymour said. The organization has continued to budget for the next three years, putting 10 percent of the revenues into reserves, he said.

The organization is trying to put itself in a good position for the future, Seymour said, adding that building the reserves is an important part of that process.

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