Industrial Attraction: The Experience of the Crawford County (Ohio) Development Board
Greg Davis and Jerold R. Thomas
This case study explains how a rural community in north central Ohio initiated the development of a successful industrial attraction organization in 1989, and how that organization created a 270 acre industrial park which boasts the creation of more than 400 new jobs and more than $90 million in new property investment. The case study approach describes how local leaders, in an effort to alleviate persistent double-digit unemployment figures, have developed successful industrial attraction strategies, raised more than $300,000 in local funds from private citizens, business, industry, and other community groups, and successfully leveraged nearly $2 million in state and federal funding. In addition, the various qualities and characteristics of the development organization and the community in which it operates that have enabled this effort to achieve this high level of success are also detailed.
Crawford County (population 47,000) is an agricultural and industrial community located in north central Ohio. Bucyrus is the county seat, and the most central municipality. Until the 1980s, the county had a large manufacturing base with more than 50 percent of the nongovernment and nonagricultural workforce employed in manufacturing. However, as a result of the economic downturn of the eighties and the subsequent plant closings and economic restructuring, manufacturing employment in the county decreased substantially. Concurrently, the unemployment rate rose to double-digit levels.
In an effort to improve the local economic situation, community leaders in Bucyrus began to discuss ways of revitalizing the economy. In the late 1980s an