More jobs may be headed for Wood County – but are there workers to fill them?

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

 

Wood County has an enviable good news-bad news dilemma.

The good news – Wood County is being eyed by companies that would create 1,400 new jobs here. The bad news – Wood County may have a hard time filling those jobs.

Wade Gottschalk, director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission, met with the county commissioners last week to give them an update on projects in the county.

“We’ve been very busy,” he said.

But the potential for so many new jobs has county officials worried about an unusual dilemma. With its low unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, that means there are just over 2,000 unemployed adults in Wood County.

“Our current issue is workforce,” Gottschalk told the county commissioners. “It’s really a matter of we need people to move to Northwest Ohio.”

The state overall is experiencing the same problem. “They are working to find bodies for these companies,” he said.

Two of the biggest potential projects in Wood County are in the Perrysburg area. Gottschalk predicted those companies won’t have difficulty filling positions since they will be offering high-paying jobs. However, the new openings may drain employees from other lower-paying companies.

“We’re going to work very hard on the backfill,” he said.

Wood County benefits from having a variety of industries, such as solar, machine shops and robotics.

“We have a very diverse base of companies,” Gottschalk said.

The region’s low cost of living coupled with relatively easy commuting patterns help by drawing workers from a broader region outside Wood County. “It gives us a larger area to attract from,” he said.

Gottschalk briefed the commissioners on the companies looking to possibly add jobs in Wood County.

The Walgreens distribution center, at Ohio 795 and Oregon Road in Perrysburg Township, is considering an expansion that would add approximately 350 new jobs.

“It would be a substantial investment,” creating good paying jobs, Gottschalk said.

But Gottschalk cautioned that the expansion is not definite.

“This isn’t a done deal, by any means,” he told the commissioners.

Perrysburg Township Planning Commission has approved the site plan and variance for parking. If the project proceeds, the company will seek tax abatements, Gottschalk said.

“They are basically in the decision mode, to see if this will work,” he said. If the expansion proceeds, “we would likely see dirt moved this year.”

The city of Perrysburg is being considered by an unnamed company that would create 1,000 to 1,100 jobs and invest $900 million in the location. Also competing for the company are sites in Michigan and Indiana, Gottschalk said.

So local economic development officials here are working to reduce barriers to the company considering Perrysburg for its business, he said. This company would have significant wastewater needs, which would be more than Perrysburg could handle and may require working with the Toledo wastewater plant.

“It’s a substantial project for the county if it does go forward,” Gottschalk said.

Two expansion projects at existing Wood County companies are also being considered, though Gottschalk said he could not reveal the names or locations of those potential projects.

Gottschalk also reported to the county commissioners that:

  • Retention calls at local businesses will begin soon, and continue through the fall.
  • The economic development office will offer the manufacturing camp for students again this year.
  • The annual dinner of the Wood County Economic Development Commission will be held March 22.
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