Chamber Forecast Breakfast shines an optimistic light
By ALBERTA STOJKOVIC –
Sixty five Morrow County Chamber of Commerce members attended the Annual Business and Industry Forecast Breakfast March 27 at Flying Horse Farms. The members heard reports from twelve area businesses and agencies after a hearty breakfast served by the FHF staff.
“What a great thing to look out these dining hall windows and see the sun coming up over Flying Horse Farms and Morrow County,” said Chamber Board President, Dan Boysel as he welcomed members and introduced Forecast Committee Chairperson, Patti Jackson.
Andrea Bayles, Account Officer for Ag Credit was the first speaker on the panel. She reported that there has been an 8.6 % increase in farm values from 1999 to 2011 in Ohio. One in seven people are employed in agriculture in Ohio. The large increase in the farmland values reflects the increase in crops and growth in crop values in the state and in Morrow County.
The Consolidated Electric Company forecast was given by its Director of Economic Development for Morrow and Delaware Counties, Dan Boysel. He remarked that it should be no surprise that the cost of electric will increase since it is tied to oil and gas prices. Boysel predicted that there will be continued growth in renewable energy of wind and solar, which are highly subsidized.
“The questions we will have to answer in the future will be “Do we want to pay more for energy and be green?” and also “Do we want to pay more for clean air and water?” Boysel said.
Boysel predicted that fiber optic networks will continue to increase broadband availability in Morrow County. Businesses are looking at broadband as an area to increase growth. Boysel said that an economic driver for the county will be having fiber optics available at the I 71 interchanges.
Don Wiggins said that Flying Horse Farms is now officially included in the world wide association of Hole in the Wall Camps that were founded by Paul Newman. The camp served 400 seriously ill children and their families last year. It is the FHF goal to serve 600–750 children eventually. He noted that FHF is the only place in the Mid-west to have a Hole in the Wall Camp. He said there are 16,000 children who could benefit from their services.
Lona Helfrich spoke of the many changes in Job and Family services over the past year. She spoke about a grant, which is available for businesses to hire new employees. The business can be reimbursed 50% for new hires that have been out of work at least 150 days. The amount of reimbursement goes up to $8,000. Helfrich said that Ohio is the only state with direct access to online job listings in Monster.com. It means that clients can use the Monster.com data base without charge.
The Morrow County Economic Development Committee was represented by Tom Slayton who brought a mockup to preview the “Morrow County Visitors Guide”. Its purpose is to promote business and industry in Morrow County. There will be 5,000 to 7,500 distributed around the county and state.
Patti Jackson of RE/Max Genesis gave an overview of the county’s real estate market. She said 207 homes were sold in Morrow County in 2011. 218 were sold in 2010. The average sale price on a home in 2011 was $101,300. The 2010 average price was $105,800 and in 2005 the average home sold for $136,000. Year to date homes have sold at an average of $95,000.
Jackson said the higher priced homes are the ones taking the biggest hit because first time home buyers are buying homes under $110,000 so there is more demand for them.
The average listing price in Morrow County is $160,000 right now in the 2012 market. There are presently 143 active listings in the county. In 2005 there were over 400 active listings. Jackson sees it as a positive indication to have the number of homes for sale down. She said that means there is more demand and also more sales.
Kathy Goon of the Small Business Center in Ashland spoke with enthusiasm about Morrow County business having a strong “entrepreneurial” spirit.
Charles Speelman, Tri-Rivers Career Center’s Superintendent, described the new robotics and welding programs at Tri-Rivers. He spoke with pride of the Career Center’s LPN to RN nursing program, which is the only one of its kind in the state.
Becky Barker, Dana Brown and Lee Ann Leonhard talked about Morrow County Cooperative Extension programs. They described grants they received for several programs. Barker is the county extension director and works with the 4-H program. Brown’s field is family and consumer science and Leonhard is Family Nutrition program assistant.
Tom Whiston concluded the panel’s presentations. He reported on the expanded business of Whiston Pharmacy that includes Radio Shack and Kimmel Cleaners. He noted that Whiston’s opens at 8 a.m. before other stores in the village are open and they are a full service pharmacy.
Note: Four color photos accompany this article in the April 11 print edition of the Sentinel.