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Development Partnership celebrates ‘decade of collaboration’

Development Partnership celebrates ‘decade of collaboration’

EATON — The economic development office for Preble County — the Preble County Development Partnership — celebrated 10 years of collaboration during a special investor event on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Justin Sommer welcomed the investors in attendance and introduced PCDP Economic Development Director Brenda Latanza.

Sommer is with Bruns General Contracting and is the current PCDP Chairperson.

“This year is exciting for a lot of reasons,” Sommer said. “Brenda is going to share with you some of those, but it’s really exciting because it’s the 10th anniversary of the organization. I’ve been associated with it in some way on and off for most of those 10 years, and I’m excited to be here with you this evening to celebrate. So I want to turn it over to our executive director Brenda Latanza, to share with you some of the successes.”

Latanza thanked everyone for attending. “Because we didn’t get to do this last year, we’re really going to focus on last year. Last year was a decade of the Partnership being in existence, and we just really want to celebrate that decade of collaboration. Thank you to all the investors. If it weren’t for you, this partnership would not be successful.”

“I am going to highlight tonight just some of the successes,” she added. “I can’t get them all in, but this is a decade of successes that we want to share tonight.”

The Partnership, which was formed in 2010, is a collaboration of business, industry, local government, and education partners working together with a shared goal, which will promote and advance the commercial, industrial and civic development of Preble County. The PCDP’s primary focuses are on business retention, new business recruitment, – marketing and community outreach and workforce development, Latanza said.

Latanza noted, some of the things that make Preble County attractive to developers is that it is a Certified ACT Work Ready Community, provides quick access to Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, is located near the crossroads of America and is a single day’s drive to 60 percent of the USA and Canadian populations.

“We also have quality education and workforce development programs, the job portal, local and state incentives, and easy access to two top-100 airports,” Latanza said.

The PCDP’s Workforce Development Committee continues growing with 40-45 in attendance at most in-person meetings and up to 30 on Zoom meetings when they were necessary. The Workforce Development Committee sponsors annual job and hiring fairs, Manufacturing Days for high school students, and internships, and has started a new pre-apprenticeship program. The WDC also hosts business panels at the five high schools in Preble County. There is also a healthcare and public safety subcommittee to focus on those career category needs.

According to Latanza, the Partnership has made significant investments in the Leadership and Junior Leadership Preble County programs, paid for the PrebleCountyCareers.Com job portal’s creation, continued to help the county keep its ACT Work Ready Community Certification, and invested in the PC Educational Service Center’s Career Connections office’s Six Sigma and Lean Training Certification programming for students.

“Preble County is the first in Ohio to be a certified ACT Work Ready Community, demonstrating we have the partnerships in place and the credentials that support a robust workforce,” Latanza noted.

On the business development side, the committee focuses on retention and expansion of area businesses, administers the PCDP’s Revolving Loan Fund, and helps with the Preble County RLF. The committee helps organize and takes part in Business Walks around the City of Eaton, and area villages to meet with local business owners, discuss their needs and provide any needed resources. The PCDP is also part of the SiteOhio program, and has helped with bringing future hotel projects to two potential locations in Preble County. The Partnership also helps with the creation of the county’s Community Economic Development Strategy.

Recent manufacturing expansion projects highlighted in Latanza’s presentation included:

•Cargill — expansion of their current facility, dedicated to non-medicated animal feed, is a $50 million investment which is creating approximately 10 new jobs.

•Neaton Auto Products – expansion of the facility which produces safety products such as airbags and steering wheels, instrument panels, cockpit components, interior and exterior trim products, was a $16 million investment bringing 70 new jobs.

•Henny Penny – the employee-owned manufacturer of premium commercial foodservice equipment also made a multi-million dollar investment and brought in up to 70 new jobs.

•TimkenSteel – a top Special Bar Quality (SBQ) steelmaker in North America focusing on creating tailored products and services for their customers, made a $12.4 million investment and created 25 new jobs.

•Lost Railroad Brewhaus, which recently broke ground in Lewisburg, is a $2.6 million investment which will create five full-time and six part-time new jobs.

•Royal Canin, a Mars Petcare brand, is currently constructing a 450,000 square foot facility which will manufacture dry pet food. This $390 million investment in Lewisburg is set to bring in 224 new jobs.

Community engagement

The Preble County Development’s engagement in the community is wide-ranging and has included projects like support of a Preble County Fairgrounds feasibility study, update of the CEDS and Land Use Plan, supporting half the cost of the Preble County Fairgrounds’ electronic sign, assistance in creation of a $500,000 Revolving Loan Fund for Preble County, increasing the PCDP’s RLF fund to over $200,000, the internship program, and funding feasibility studies for the hotel project. Recently, the PCDP helped in the creation of Community Reinvestment Area Incentives for Harrison Township and the Village of Camden, and invested approximately $75,000 in creation of the consolidated office space for the PCDP, Preble County Chamber and PC Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I think it’s pretty incredible the amount of investment that’s happened, and not only in the last year, but in the last 10 years,” Sommers added. “All development happens at the local level. And certainly, we’re having to leverage the resources that our state and federal partners regional partners provide to us. But the reality is, projects happen on sites, it happens in communities, and it’s more than just the numbers of investments that you see there. It’s really about impacting communities and creating opportunities that better the life of our neighbors, and that’s why we do what we do — economic development. So, thank you for the work. And thank you all in the room for supporting that work in one way or another.”

U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson and Southern Ohio Chamber Alliance Director Matt Appenzeller were featured speakers for the evening. Watch for coverage of their remarks in an upcoming edition of The Register-Herald.

U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson (second from left) talks with Brenda Latanza, Jeff Sewert and Ben Thaeler during Preble County Development Partnership investors gathering on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

The economic development office for Preble County — the Preble County Development Partnership — celebrated 10 years of collaboration during a special investor event on Wednesday, Dec. 14. PCDP Economic Development Director Brenda Latanza greets those in attendance.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.