I am excited as I look back at 2018 and reflect on the status of Richland County’s local economy. Many of our local businesses had a very good year in 2018, and some of them were setting records.
Macro-economic forces were strong; meaning that the national economy was generally healthy and good for business, and this was especially true in manufacturing. This translates directly to our local economy which has a significant manufacturing base, and this momentum seems to be carrying on into 2019.
As an economic developer, one of my main roles is to talk with business owners around the county and help them capitalize on growth opportunities. Many of the companies that had record sales last year know exactly where their growth is coming from and are ready to move on expansion projects that give them more capacity to capture their share of the growing market. Our economic development team also helps company leaders investigate new growth opportunities that aren’t always obvious at first. Either way, our goal is to help our local companies expand – sooner rather than later – and to do that expansion in Richland County.
There were several Richland County business expansion projects in 2018, and many projects that are carrying over into 2019. Both large and small companies are taking advantage of the strong economy and planning for a robust future. On the large end of the scale, Nanogate Jay Systems expanded their facility on East Longview Avenue with a new Research & Development Center that will develop special technology for the automotive sector. Nanogate took advantage of available support from JobsOhio to make sure that research – and the follow-on jobs – occurs in Mansfield instead of Germany. Smaller companies are expanding as well. Automatic Parts has been located on Springmill Street for years, but they outgrew their space and needed a bigger building in order to serve their current customers and support their future growth plans. They moved to a vacant building in the industrial park by the airport. We were able to help assist their move with a grant from JobsOhio to reuse that existing vacant building and bring it up to current manufacturing standards.
One thing that stands out as I review the work we’ve done in 2018 is the lack of industrial buildings that are available in Richland County. This may surprise some readers. If you were in Mansfield in 2010, you might remember what seemed like a near endless supply of industrial space, and the buildings were selling for less than owners expected. Since then, the local economy has certainly rebounded and we have a difficult time supporting our growing businesses with new buildings because so many of the formerly vacant properties are filled – even to overflowing – with profitable manufacturing companies employing thousands of people from around the region.
Looking forward into 2019, I’m expecting more expansions, and the economy to remain strong. If you are a business owner, or know of a business that is ready to expand, please contact us.