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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Partners celebrate 10 years of growth

Blaha: Expectations exceeded. Blaha: Expectations exceeded.
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A decade after businesses and elected officials banded together to create an agency to promote economic development in Wood County, the effort has yielded $1.7 billion in investments in new plants and equipment.

About 400 backers of the Wood County Economic Development Commission assembled last night at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg to celebrate the organization's 10th anniversary and tout its successes.

“The success goes beyond what anybody thought was possible back in 1993,” executive director Tom Blaha said in an interview yesterday.

Recent triumphs include a $380 million warehouse being built by the Walgreen Co. drugstore chain in Perrysburg Township that will employ 450, as well as a $234 million standby power plant in Troy Township that will yield $5 million in taxes for Eastwood Schools over the next decade.

Mr. Blaha also noted that the commission led a delegation to Wall Street in the late 1990s that convinced Standard & Poor's to raise the county's bond rating to AA from A, reducing the cost of financing county construction projects.

The commission was heralded by the Ohio Development Association in 1998 with a “red carnation” award” for its economic development work and passed the $1 billion mark in projects in 2000.

The agency was incorporated March 22, 1993, by two bank officials and a utility executive. Wood County commissioners provided a major boost when they approved a financing strategy that levied a tax of $1 per $1,000 of valuation on real estate transfers, Mr. Blaha said.

At the time, he said, “it was an untried commodity to have a public-private partnership do economic development county-wide.”

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