EATON — Preble County Development Partnership (PCDP) held its annual Investor Celebration on Tuesday, Dec. 4. The night brought the many different partners together to celebrate, but also to update them on the yearly successes of the PCDP.
“We are thrilled to host this year-end celebration. Many of our member companies and the partnership itself have a lot to celebrate. I think it is hard for us to believe that this partnership has been in existence now for over eight years, formed in 2010. We at Henny Penny are proud to be one of the founding members,” Jeff Frymier, Henny Penny Director of Communications, said.
“I think I can speak for all the members, that this partnership has indeed exceeded our expectations. It has had tremendous impact in our community. I think we can all share some examples, as well, of what the partnership has done and how we have benefited from it.”
He added, the Henny Penny Training Center is one of those examples. PCDP connected them with Warren County Court Authority and helped them with tax relief for the construction. Henny Penny recently explored building an Innovation Center with the help of PCDP.
He also thanked Executive Director Brenda Latanza for her leadership the last few years.
Chairman Walt Hibner took the microphone to welcome everyone in attendance.
“I want to thank the investors, because without investors this organization wouldn’t be able to function or operate. I would like to thank those of you who put the time and effort into the board meetings and committee work and everything we do to promote Preble County in the region, state, and country,” Hibner said.
“I want to thank Brenda [Latanza], because she keeps this machine oiled and moving. She puts in a lot of time, effort, and personal commitment to this organization, which then promotes, very well, Preble County to the different realms we are involved in.”
Preble County Commissioner Rodney Creech said a prayer, before dinner was served.
After the meal, City of Eaton Manager Brad Collins took the microphone to recognize Chairman Hibner for his efforts with PCDP. Hibner will be handing over his position to Collins moving forward.
“I would like to say that we are very fortunate to have Walt [Hibner] serve on a board as the chairperson. As you know, he works at Vectren and it is important to have our utility partners. They can help us answer questions about availability, capacity, and future plans,” Collins said.
“Walk [Hibner] brought something special as a chairperson. He is a true economic development professional. As the Economic Development Manager for Vectren, he is responsible for building relationships with businesses seeking to move into or expand existing operations here.
“He is actively involved with several local, regional, and state development organizations throughout 17 counties. He definitely knows different organizations and the different people, who we need to be talking to. He has been most gracious with his time and has taken this commitment with PCDL very seriously.
“He truly cares about the Preble County area and wishes us continued success in the future.”
Hibner thanked Collins for the award and recognition, before talking about what he has learned about Preble County while serving on the board.
“Over the past couple of years, the goal I had was to elevate Preble County’s presence in the region. I think we did that, thanks to Henny Penny opening their doors and bringing in Dayton Development Coalition. The things we have gotten to do at the state and regional level has brought Preble County to the forefront,” Hibner said.
Latanza took the stage to share updates and an overview from 2018.
“Some highlights of 2018: Henny Penny created 30 new jobs and made a six million dollar capital investment, Dow made a million dollar investment, Parker Hannifin added 15 new jobs and made a two million dollar investment, Cargill added 4 new jobs with more to come and made an 11.9 million dollar investment, Bullen added 30 new jobs and made a three million dollar investment, Lawn Plus added six new jobs and made a $624,000 investment, $26 million at Pratt Container, and Silfex had a 17 percent increase in jobs and 44 percent increase on capital spend,” Latanza said.
“We supported half the cost of the Preble County Fairgrounds electronic sign, which is huge. People see that as they come and go from Eaton and the county. Lewisburg Brick Rhod Antiques and Bistro borrowed from our small Revolving Loan Fund we had through the partnership and recently paid that back already.
“Lewisburg Main Street Development Project has come to almost a completion — it is absolutely beautiful. The Workforce Development Committee created an internship program this year. We had another business walk in May. We have four new Preble County Development Partnership investors.
“The Hotel Project — we’re really excited about that. We think they have chosen a site in Eaton. They are looking closely at one of the two that they have been looking at. You (the partners) voted to pay for a second feasibility study, up to $7,500 which was 50 percent of the cost, to show more demand.
“That showed more demand, it also showed we don’t need a 65 room, we need at least a 75 room hotel. Brad [Collins] and I have been working closely with the investor group, Court Authority, and the County Revolving Loan Fund — they are definitely interested in those kinds of funding. I’m hoping next year we can be standing here to talk about either a grand breaking or at least a new start of a hotel.”
“The old Hines Truck Stop — I’m so excited about that,” Latanza continued. “It was purchased at a sheriff’s auction, and you all know what it looks like. Working with the new owner, he is very excited about some kind of a new business going in there. We are working with him to apply for the abandoned gas station grant funding, up to $500,000 to clean up that site. It is a prime site, so any ideas we are interested to hear.”
She added: PCDP achieved its goal to maintain the county’s ACT Work Ready Community certification; Latanza is chairing the State Ohio ACT Council, PCDP hosted two hiring events, and held Manufacturing Days again, and the Partnership approved moving forward with a new job portal.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH