Economic Study for Industrial Park

In the last four years since becoming a commissioner in Clermont County we’ve had three businesses (~650 jobs) that moved out of the county.  We also missed out on 175 companies during that time that looked to relocate here and decided to go elsewhere.

Your first question may be why would a business leave Clermont County or choose to locate somewhere else in the Cincinnati area? Was it because we couldn’t match tax incentives? Was it because these companies couldn’t find employees? Or was it because of the traffic congestion on I-275, SR 28 or SR 32?

Actually, none of these factors caused these companies to invest elsewhere. We could offer attractive tax incentives to entice them.  The majority of Clermont’s workforce currently commutes out of the county, and I believe if the opportunity was available for them to work in the county, they would. And the road improvements were coming to an end.

The biggest problem we have in the county from an economic development standpoint, as well as job and business retention, is that private developers are not building shovel-ready industrial sites.  I’m a firm believer that government shouldn’t intervene where the private sector can handle things on its own. But when building industrial parks today, the costs are much higher than what developers can spend and still make money.  We have been waiting for developers to build shovel-ready sites in the county, but not enough have taken the leap. Land costs, roadway, storm water ponds, sewer, utilities, and other infrastructure that businesses expect drive the price too high for these developers to make a profit.

Government, on the other hand, has a huge incentive to make these shovel-ready sites available because of the direct and indirect benefits to the county.  There is the initial construction impact to the county from the standpoint of investments and employment opportunities. Then there are the long-term benefits, such as newly created jobs, property taxes, and its associated economic activities upon the community due to spending on goods and services provided by local businesses.

The University of Cincinnati Economics Center recently performed an economic impact analysis of developing a 242-acre industrial site in Clermont County. The results were impressive: 1,855 permanent jobs (3,530 jobs if counting direct and indirect jobs); $186 million annual payroll; $94 million estimated property valuation at full build-out (generating $582,000 in annual property taxes to the local governments and school district); and a total annual “economic output” of $1.5 billion.

Apart from being a county commissioner, I own a local manufacturing company and would like to see an industrial park built, since it would attract more employment opportunities to the county, it would increase our tax base for better infrastructure, and potentially provide new customers for our services. However, as a Clermont County Commissioner, my job is to prudently invest the citizens’ tax dollars to get the biggest impact, and an industrial park would meet that requirement.