Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Logan County Economic Development

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To position itself for economic growth and success in an increasingly global market economy, Logan County is maximizing its local potential and building on its history of economic success. By focusing on the development of local talent, investing in infrastructure and technology, and fostering a pro-business environment, Logan County is primed for innovation, economic growth, and prosperity.
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Logan County, Ohio, has a rich history and a very promising future. The boundaries for Logan County were defined in 1817 but it wasn’t until decades later that the reservoir was built and population growth took place. The reservoir eliminated much of the swampy land in the area, making the location more appealing for settlers who wanted to build homes and were now able to farm the land.

Indian Lake State Park was established in 1898, recognizing the beauty of the Indian Lake reservoir that was created. Around this time, the area gained increasing access to roadways and railways, networks that would help establish the development and viability of the county. Logan County became home to rail engine manufacturing capacities to service the Big Four railroad companies.

As the population continued to grow as a result of this activity, so too did the local and regional economy. Today the population of Logan County is over 45,500 people who have helped to foster a strong agricultural foundation, a manufacturing sector with enormous potential, and the capacity to diversify into new economic sectors.

The Logan County Chamber of Commerce has been an active contributor to the economic success of the region for over 70 years. Working in partnership with a number of local, regional, and state stakeholders, the Chamber has served Logan County by supporting business attraction, retention, expansion efforts, and supporting entrepreneurship in the community.

Logan County is recognized as the Research and Development Capital of the Midwest, a title that is greatly attributed to an innovative and hardworking community that has positioned itself to thrive as a center for technology. Logan County is home to a number of leaders in R & D that support the transportation and logistics industries locally.

The Transportation and Research Center (TRC) is a regional partnership that has been established between The Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research, Battelle, and Honda. Through the TRC a number of transportation companies are making technological breakthroughs that are advancing the automotive industry as a whole, which is a major driver of local and regional economies.

“It has a 7.5 mile oval track that OSU manages for Honda. It brings a lot of different manufacturers to our area for testing and compliance for government standards,” Paul Benedetti, President/CEO of the Chamber of Commerce explained of the TRC. “This facility is a huge asset for our area and is really making us a center for automotive design and engineering for the Midwest.”

Logan County is also home to a number of large companies from a diverse range of industrial sectors including firearm, medical, and logistics. As an industrial leader, Logan County is ideally located in proximity to transportation infrastructure and natural resources, as well as companies that have become economic cornerstones in the region.

Honda, for example, has been an important part of the Ohio economic landscape since 1983. After a recent visit to Honda’s Japanese headquarters it was brought to Benedetti’s attention that, “Of all the plants in the world for Honda, this is one of the most productive, crediting the local work ethic,” a testament to the region’s workforce and a reason for the company’s longevity in the area.

“More companies want to be closer logistically to the Honda facilities,” Benedetti explained. “We have 12 supplier companies that are Japanese-owned in our community. As we try to bring those services closer to that manufacturing base we look for continued growth in the automotive field.”

Logan County has become a strategic location for supply chain opportunities supporting both the industrial base and the agricultural foundation of the economy. The County is home to over 700 family farms, all of which are viewed as important small businesses in the community, entities that the Logan County Chamber hopes to continue to engage and support.

Even from an agricultural standpoint, Logan County is looking toward the future and supporting technological innovation. True to Logan County’s entrepreneurial spirit, local farms are finding ways to innovate and implement technological advances in the agricultural sector, increasing their viability and competitiveness in the 21st century.

Indeed, leadership in Logan County fully acknowledges the role technology will play in its future development and economic success. Technology serves to reinforce business attraction, retention, and expansion efforts in the region, as investments are being made in the area’s IT infrastructure and technological capacities. “We really have two legs of the local economy with agriculture and manufacturing, and we’re trying to develop a third leg with technology moving forward, things such as connectivity, fiber optics, data centers, and call centers,” Benedetti stated.

NetGain Information Systems, a multi-year Inc. 500 recipient, has been at the forefront of this advancement in Logan County. NetGain is responsible for building a fiber optic infrastructure in Logan County that offers existing businesses expanded bandwidth. This also proves to be extremely attractive to potential investors.

Investments like these enable Logan County to capitalize on the benefits of an increasingly diversified economy while reinforcing business development. The Logan County Chamber of Commerce actively supports the business community and works in partnership to achieve collaborative success in that regard. Logan County officials, meanwhile, work closely with local, regional, and state stakeholders to coordinate resources and streamline processes in order to take full advantage of the region’s assets. The Chamber and its many partners identify the diverse needs of the business community and work in conjunction to find effective ways to address them.

The County is pleased to be a part of Columbus 20/20 Economic Development Region. The mission of Columbus 20/20 is to aggressively attract companies that will have a significant impact on the core automotive, agriculture, transportation, logistics, and technology sectors of Logan County’s economy. As part of the Columbus 20/20 efforts, Logan County has access to additional economic development tools and business supports. Columbus 20/20 is helping to increase the exposure of its eleven member counties and their assets by conducting research and providing relevant information regarding new opportunities for investment. Columbus 20/20 leverages partnerships in the interest of strategic economic development investments. Included in this regional growth strategy is streamlined access and information regarding available financial opportunities and supports such as loans, grants, incentives, and other financial resources.

Logan County boasts an extensive network of multimodal transportation infrastructure, and significant efforts are being made to market regional assets such as: interstate, freight rail, and port access; proximity to Port Columbus International Airport, which has recently undergone an $80 million terminal renovation and modernization; and Rickenbacker Inland Port and Airport. One of Central Ohio’s qualifying counties, Logan County reaps the benefits of its location within Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #138, the seventh most active FTZ in the U.S. Legally considered outside of customs territory, goods may be brought into the site duty-free without formal customs entry, providing an opportunity for lower costs and increased competitive advantage on the global market.

Workforce development is another major initiative that is ongoing in Logan County. Local leadership is making every effort to address the workforce challenges that are faced by local businesses. Honda employees who have been longstanding associates with the company over its 30-plus year tenure are retiring at a fast pace, leaving both a labor and a skills crunch for the employer. To this end, Logan County has come together with the county’s seven schools and the school district to collaboratively develop a student credentialing program. The program will ensure that students are considered job ready, obtaining the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for many career paths in only seven to nine months.

The program is in its first year of implementation and has been introduced to senior level students at county schools. Resources have been allocated and career path information is provided. Students are made aware of the manufacturing and skilled labor job opportunities that are available locally, as a viable alternative to a four-year degree program. “The schools have been great in participating and getting on board with getting information to students about other career pathways,” Benedetti shared.

Traditionally, only 61 percent of Logan County’s high school graduates will go on to pursue post-secondary education. Identifying this trend, Clark State University is growing a presence in Logan County, offering students access to some of their program offerings through the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, another great resource in the community.

Logan County has great potential and is finding a number of ways to capitalize on the opportunities that have presented themselves. The County is an attractive location in which to invest, a great place to work, and an even better place to live and visit. Given the affordable cost of living and doing business, and considering the wealth of natural and man-made attractions, there is something for everyone.

From its rich history, to the great outdoors, recreation and adventure, you’ll find it in Logan County. Indian Lake brings over 40,000 visitors to the community each summer for boating, fishing and other great events. Go zip lining, check out local castles and caverns, or enjoy Mad River Mountain for skiing and other winter activities. Logan County has four seasons of fun, from rails to trails and everything in between.

Whether it’s business or pleasure that catches your attention, Logan County is poised for a future of success and prosperity. With a focus on growth and development, Logan County is finding new ways to bring opportunities and resources to local businesses and residents alike. The pro-business climate and forward thinking leadership has made Logan County a competitive player in the global market.

April 25, 2017, 2:29 PM EDT