County and U.S. EDA
County, Ohio & U.S.EDA
Collaborate to Develop Economic Strategy
from Williams County Commissioners to
Williams County Economic Development Stakeholder
a big future for small businesses
Friday, June 17, 2011 2:36 AM EDT
knows what the solution is, but everyone agrees what it should look like.
That is great news, according to Don Iannone, Will Burns and Dr. Michael
The three men are using a $75,000 grant to develop a strategic economic
development plan for the county.
They met with county commissioners Thursday morning to report their
According to local surveys and interviews, any economic recovery must
retain and attract young professionals, diversify existing industry and
attract new industry.
still gathering information," said Carroll, a professor of Economics
at Bowling Green State University, "but every one is in alignment,
from the bottom up."
"That's the key to success right there," Iannone said.
"Everyone agrees and everyone wants to be a part of the solution.
That's what makes things happen."
The three men toured the county Wednesday, and met with officials and
industry representatives from each village Thursday morning.
The county has a lot of land to grow on, a strong workforce and easy
access to resources and global markets.
"All that is still intact," Carroll said. High unemployment and
hard times hit because the automotive supply chain collapsed.
"It was interconnected, but fragile," he said. "When one
part broke, all the parts broke."
"Our goal, is to bring back prosperity without repeating history.
That would be a disaster," Iannone said.
The future lies in small business and industry, rooted in the community
and tied to the global economy.
"That's really what it's all about," he said. "It's more
"You have a lot of great communities here, each with its own
personality," Carroll said. "The Turnpike and the railroad
provide global access."
They agree plastics and agriculture may have a strong role in the future.
Williams County plastics production is 19 times higher, per capita, than
the national average. Agriculture is, and has been, one of the counties
strongest suits. "It's a part of your culture," Iannone said.
"We have to develop that and promote it."
The county is unique in that it lies adjacent to Michigan and Indiana.
"It's a challenge," he said, "but it's also an opportunity
for regional success." The three states share a common workforce -
people live in one and work in another. Success and growth in one impacts
the other two.
"You have a lot of choices here, and no clear cut answers, but that's
OK. It's the choices that matter."
The three men will continue to conduct interviews and research throughout
the summer, and present their findings in late October or early November.
"It takes a community to fix a community," said commissioner
Alan Word. "If we can't come together, we can't fix anything and we
can't get anywhere.
"Entrepreneurship matters," he said. "Little companies that
borrow $20,000 to get started one year bring in millions three years
later. I've seen it happen."
Iannone agreed. "This is America," he said. "It can happen