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Fulton County to hire jobs chief today

WAUSEON - Fulton County officials will announce a new economic development director today, dismissing a Toledo economic development agency's bid to take a more active role in their growth.

After two searches and countless proposals, the commission settled on a single candidate. County officials yesterday would not identify the new director.

The action means the county is officially saying no thanks to the Regional Growth Partnership, an agency that offered to take over the full-time job of finding and retaining jobs for the county.

Fulton County was the first in northwest Ohio to consider such a deal with the nonprofit agency.

“We have always staffed the position of county development director with an individual and not an organization,” said county Administrator Vond Hall. “There has always been a single point of contact, and the commissioners felt that the residents and the businesses in the county expect to have a person in the office on a daily basis.”

Although a start date for the new economic development director has not been set, the candidate is expected to be on staff before the end of the year.

County Commissioner Brad Peebles said yesterday that while officials wanted their own director on board, Fulton County will continue to utilize the partnership as a valuable resource.

The Regional Growth Partnership, produced from an alliance between the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce and Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, works as a matchmaker to help companies looking to relocate to northwest Ohio find an appropriate site. Fulton, like 10 other counties in northwest Ohio, uses the partnership to support its economic development for free.

In his September presentation to the commission, Regional Growth Partnership President Donald Jakeway promised that Fulton County would be the agency's top priority if officials chose to employ the partnership full time. He added that there was several possible ways the partnership could be involved in Fulton County's economic development including acting as a full-time director or simply providing “basic economic support.“ Mr. Jakeway was not available for comment yesterday.

Most of Fulton County's work force is employed in factories. Agriculture, however, is still an important part of the county's economy, with 220,000 acres of farmland still in use as of 1995.

Fulton County has about 42,000 residents.

Commissioner-elect Dean Genter said the county's economic development was a key issue nudging him to run for a seat.

A longtime farmer, he has said he believes the county must seek a balance among agricultural, residential, and industrial growth.

Mr. Genter was part of the group that selected the economic development candidate. Also on the search committee were Mr. Hall, Commissioner-elect Paul Barnaby, and Commissioner Jack Graf.

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