EATON — Preble County Development Partnership (PCDP) held its annual Investor Celebration on Friday, Dec. 6, at the Preble County Art Center.
The evening began with a networking reception, before City of Eaton Manager and PCDP Chairperson Brad Collins welcomed those in attendance.
“I want to start by thanking Vicky Fanberg, with the Preble County Art Association for the use of their facility here,” he said, welcoming her to speak about the new center on Main Street.
Following dinner, prepared by Farm Fresh Catering, Executive Director Brenda Latanza took the podium to thank all in attendance for their support.
“This is our annual celebration and thank you to the investors here for the Preble County Development Partnership. It means a lot that all of you come, socialize, network, and meet the new people, because some of our investors do have new people,” Latanza said. “This year, our new investor was Edison State Community College. Thank you for coming on board.”
Latanza then started to share the history of Preble County Development Partnership, before offering the opportunity for long-time supporters to speak.
“The Preble County Development Partnership was formed in 2010. It is a public-private partnership,” she said.
Lewisburg Village Manager Jeff Sewert added, “Back when it was formed, Matt Appenzeller (then-executive director for the Preble County Chamber of Commerce, engaged this group, the private side and the public side. Everybody was trying to do economic development in the county, but nobody knew what it was. That group formed the partnership, the private-public side.
“With all that said, after the last 10 years, here we are tonight — we’ve come a long way in 10 years. By all working together, we formed this partnership and our mission statement going forward — we’ve done that from day one. I’m proud to be a part of that and we’ve come a long way.”
Commissioner Chris Day added, “When we first initiated this public-private partnership, the private side probably didn’t understand it, but people bought into it. I appreciate the private sector now. We have great partnerships,” Day noted, pointing out partners including Vectren and DP&L.
“The private sector is working with the public sector, and it opens up the door. When the private sector needs [something], we have people we can go to. This has been huge for our county. That was one of the biggest things we were missing, we didn’t have those open doors to get in to people. I want to thank the private sector for their investment.”
Latanza then shared updates and highlighted the positives of working and growing a business in Preble County.
“When I go out and talk to site selectors at businesses and they say, ‘Why would we choose Preble County?’ These are some of the things I highlight when I’m talking to those businesses: we have quality education and workforce development programs, we just opened a brand new job portal for our Preble County employers only, quick access to Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Indianapolis, and a single days drive to 60 percent of the USA and Canadian population,” she said.
“Just some of the 2019 Preble County manufacturing growth, let me highlight a few of those:
•Henny Penny announced a new project, 70 new jobs with a $16 million investment. This will be their largest expansion to date on Preble County land.
•Neaton Auto Products also announced 70 new jobs and a $8-10 million investment in its facility.
•TimkenSteel announced 25 new jobs and a $12.3 million investment.
•Bullen added 14 new jobs and a $3 million investment.
•Cargill — 13 new jobs and an $11.4 million investment.
•Both of the Pratt Industries — Lewisburg Container added $25 million in new equipment just this year and the corrugator division made a $200,000 investment.
•Parker Hannifin — both facilities together created 11 new jobs and made a $6 million investment.”
Latanza also spoke about the Workforce Development Committee, which has grown to approximately 40 people in attendance, including the majority of Preble County manufacturers.
“For every one manufacturing job, a trickle-effect of about seven to eight additional jobs are created, because of that one manufacturer job in your community. Whether it is a banking job or a grocery job, the trickle-effect is just incredible for that,” Latanza said.
Matt Schnipke, Deputy Director of the Warren County Port Authority, spoke to those gathered about the port authority and its various external partnerships. He explained, Preble County was the first community they partnered with outside of Warren County.
“We partnered with Preble County Commissioners in July of 2013 and have been working in Preble County ever since. We have an agreement with the Commissioners that states the Port Authority can come into the county and assist with projects where able,” he said.
“It is a good way for the Preble County business community to have the offerings a port authority can bring to the table, without Preble County having to have their own port, staff it, and pay the overhead costs of legal audit, etc.”
Warren County Port Authority has assisted Preble County with the following projects: Pratt Industries expansion in 2013, Henny Penny projects in 2014, 2017, and now in 2019, and Neaton Auto Products upcoming expansion in 2019.
“The main tool we utilize is, Port Authorities have the ability to abate sales tax on construction materials for manufacturing projects. It is primarily done through a leasing agreement,” he said. “It is a great tool that can be a great saving to companies.”
He also discussed other programs which might be a benefit to companies as they grow and expand.
Tim Crammer, with Henny Penny, spoke about the company’s upcoming expansion project, which will create 70 jobs in the community.
“If it wasn’t for the partnership, the City of Eaton, and Brenda [Latanza] we wouldn’t be building that building across the street. They were awesome at helping us get through this process. It actually started three or four years ago. About a year ago, I came back to Brenda and told her we had a need to expand and weren’t sure if we should stay [in Eaton]. We went all over the place looking,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the City of Eaton and [the PCDP] stepped up and we made the decision to stay right here in Eaton. It wouldn’t be happening and it would not be happening here, if not for the Partnership.”
Dave Gulling, with Neaton Auto, spoke about Neaton’s upcoming expansion project, which will also create 70 jobs in the community.
“We had some new contracts awarded to us and as a result we got into the same situation Henny Penny did — we had to do something to expand. We’ve built plants in Mexico, Georgia, and all over the world. We really considered building in Mexico and Georgia,” he said. “The Partnership did bring things together with us. The City of Eaton was so receptive, Jobs Ohio came in, but it was all coordinated through Brenda [Latanza].
“If it didn’t happen like that, we probably would have been building in Georgia. We kind of feel like this is home and we’re so glad you guys supported us. I was always an advocate to build here. Ultimately, we were able to bring it all together.”
In closing, Collins said, “I can’t end the day without thanking Brenda Latanza. You can’t go anywhere, you can’t go to a meeting [without] her [knowing] somebody. Finally, I want to thank all of you again. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it, the partnership is successful because you all care about what you’re doing. You guys put in the time, you actively participate. I think the bigger picture is the conversation, the networking, the working together.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH