CIRCLEVILLE — In the world of economic development, sometimes you land the big fish; however, success is determined by how you move the needle every day.
Ryan Scribner, economic development director for Pickaway Progress Partnership, also known as P3, has been meeting with the big fish but he’s also been working to grow the economic base and aid existing businesses in becoming more successful.
“There continues to be a lot of activity and some of it is a little different than some of what we’ve had the last few years,” Scribner said. “We’re not seeing quite as much on the larger scale industrial front as far as prospects and projects but there is a ton of activity on the logistics sector.”
P3 is the economic development agency for Pickaway County and its municipalities. P3 has three main objectives: to promote and market the advantages of locating business in the county; promote a stronger business environment by facilitating retention and expansion efforts of local employers; and deliver a seamless network of economic development services and value-added programs to existing businesses, local government, and prospective companies throughout Pickaway County, according to its website.
Scribner said in Pickaway County, like all of Central Ohio, there aren’t many low hanging fruit sites left that are ready to go, and the work now is to identify places and build them up for prospective opportunities.
“That’s always an interesting discussion with landowners, local governments, schools and all the different parties that have a say in various aspects of development,” he said. “That keeps us hopping.”
Scribner said as a byproduct of the industrial growth, many of the prospects around the county are mix-use.
“From the hotel to the retail, things that typically aren’t in our wheelhouse and we selectively get involved in depending on how important it is to the locality we’re working with,” Scribner added.
He said right now Pickaway County is near historic low unemployment and that can cause issues for employers looking to fill jobs, like a recent announcement that Amazon was hosting job fairs in an attempt to fill 30,000 jobs nationally.
“It’s just simple math,” he continued. “We have a lot of growth, a lot of jobs created and there’s more jobs than bodies to fill them right now. These things ebb and flow and go up and down. We can’t control the larger cycles but what we can control is try to do more with what we have.”
On that front, Scribner said organizations like Pickaway WORKS, a program that brings education, businesses, and the community together to provide students with the training they need for life after high school, are key to helping give students the those skills.
“We want to make sure [students] are as aware and as prepared as possible for real world local opportunity,” he commented.
Scribner said the challenges, like finding employees for businesses and preparing land for development are better challenges to have than the alternative.
“These are all good challenges to have,” Scribner remarked.
Eventually things can and will slow down, Scribner added. But what they do when times are good matters, and they’ll keep working since there’s no shortage of work to do.
“It’s hard to not sense some clouds coming and it’s inevitable that things will eventually slow down but we’ll transition like we did before,” he stated. “When I started here eight and a half years ago things were slow. We don’t sit around wishing the economy wasn’t slow. We took stock of the community and looked for areas that we could improve things and prepare for when things do improve.”
Scribner said doing things during the last downturn, like preparing the former RCA Thompson site by cleaning it up, has led to a new hotel and retail growth in the area south of Walmart.
“We managed to get the site cleaned up and the infrastructure in place and if not for that effort, and it was a multi-year effort, if we hadn’t done it we wouldn’t have the Hampton Inn under construction, the strip mall, you wouldn’t have a couple other projects kicking the tires that are viable because we did the work when it was slow,” he said.
Scribner commented that when it comes to development it’s about checking the boxes and stacking as many things in the community’s favor as possible and make it really easy for companies to say yes to decide to come here.
“Those are things we can work on if there’s an active and growing economy or if there’s a slow down,” he continued. “There’s always that opportunity to try to realize potential. That’s what we do at P3.”
Scribner said another area that’s prime for growth is to the East of Circleville near Ohio Christian University.
“Washington Township has done some planning to prepare for it and we know there are some developable properties that are very close to utilities,” Scribner told The Circleville Herald. “It’s really something that you see slowly incrementally south from Columbus, I’m talking residential stuff, and that’s what’s most likely going to be out here.”
Scribner said with that, the key is to not outgrow what you can handle.
“I think what we’re seeing is a good pace rather than one that would cause challenges or be too drastic of a change on the complexity and aesthetics we enjoy in this community,” he concluded.
P3 is a non-profit corporation with a board of directors comprised of leaders from the public and private sectors. It receives its funding from a variety of investors in the public and private sectors.