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Residents urged to buy, vacation in Wood Co.

Officials say they're optimistic for future

BOWLING GREEN -- Wood County commissioners say they remain "steadfast" in their optimism for the county's future despite the ongoing economic challenges.

At the board's annual State of the County address to the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Thursday, commissioners encouraged the audience to use their purchasing power in Wood County-- where sales tax is the only revenue stream on the rise -- and to plan "staycations," or vacations close to home as gas prices continue to rise.

"During one of the worst economic recessions, its probably not easy to attract over $400 million in private sector investments unless you're a good place to live, work, obtain an education, and raise a family," Commissioner Tim Brown said. "You can help us by continuing to shop locally. We often brag ... out of 88 counties in Ohio, only five have a lower sales tax rate than our county."

Saying Wood County has "led the economic recovery in northwest Ohio," Mr. Brown pointed to a long list of projects that have taken place or are planned, ranging from a $72 million investment at the Chrysler Machining plant in Perrysburg Township at the north end of the county to a 10,000-square-foot expansion at D.S. Brown Co. in North Baltimore at the south end.

"We can't talk about economic development and our economy's success in Wood County without mentioning, of course, agriculture," he said. "In 2011, out of 88 counties Wood County was the No. 1 producer of wheat, the No. 1 producer of soybeans, and the No. 2 producer of corn for a total crop value of $193 million in 2011."

Every Bob Evans restaurant in the United States gets its eggs from Wood County, he said, a statement that later prompted an audience member to ask, "Where are the chickens?"

Mr. Brown smiled. "That's good when you have to ask that," he said, referring to complaints that can arise from large-scale animal operations.

Commissioner Jim Carter said all those chickens -- more than a million -- are housed at Hertzfeld Poultry Farms near Grand Rapids.

On another "egg-related" note, Mr. Carter said there are two eggs in the peregrine falcon nest in the clock tower of the courthouse. Last year -- the first year a mating pair of falcons nested at the courthouse -- four chicks hatched.

"They are a joy to watch, and we are pleased to announce there are no more pigeons roosting on the courthouse," Mr. Carter said.

The falcons can be seen on a live cam at www.co.wood.oh.us/falconcam.htm.

Mr. Brown also talked at length about the board's opposition to Gov. Kasich's proposal to lease or sell the Ohio Turnpike. The toll road is an asset that helps retain and attract business in Wood County, he said, and should not be sacrificed to pay for projects in other parts of the state.

"We believe very strongly that the Ohio Turnpike is already a well-managed, well-maintained economic center for northern Ohio," Mr. Brown said. "We know business and industry has specifically located along the turnpike corridor because they know they can get their product out without the chance of the turnpike being shut down."

Responding to a question from the audience, Mr. Brown said the turnpike along with Toledo Express Airport and the Port of Toledo all are "strategic" to CSX Transportation's new $175 million intermodal terminal near North Baltimore. CSX was named the "corporate citizen of the year" at the Wood County Economic Development Commission's annual meeting Wednesday night.

A connector route between the intermodal facility along State Rt. 18 to I-75 has been approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation and is to be completed by the end of the year, Mr. Carter said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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