As a member of the Portage Development Board’s Executive Committee I get to be on the front lines of many of the business development deals that the Portage Development Board helps make happen.
The Portage Development Board may not be well known, but it should be because they play an instrumental role in facilitating business development deals in Kent and across Portage County.
At the request of the business owners and investors, the nature of business development is usually highly confidential until all of the agreements and contracts have been finalized.
And even then, nondisclosure agreements typically mean that employees at the Portage Development Board who helped broker the deals can feel good about what they did but not talk about the details of the deals.
That leaves most folks, and most newspaper articles, notoriously unaware of the excellent work that the Portage Development Board does on the behalf of businesses and all of us who live in Portage County.
But every once in a while the Portage Development Board gets to share in their success, and receive some well deserved favorable press coverage.
In case you missed it, here’s a recent run down of the impacts of our Portage Development Board in 2017 from an article in the Record Courier:
A dozen companies were honored recently for their contributions to Portage County’s economy during 2017.
“2017 was a big year,” said Portage Development Board President Brad Ehrhart. “It was probably one of the biggest years since we started up in 2011. These companies invested more than $78 million in buildings, machinery and working capital to make things happen.”
The 12 companies honored are responsible for 1,500 jobs being protected or brought into the county, he added.
“Those jobs together, the ones here right now and those being created, equal a total payroll of over $95 million,” Ehrhart said.
With its $324,000 annual budget, the agency brought $1,279 dollars in investment to the county for each dollar spent, Ehrhart said.
“The total economic impact, as calculated by First Energy, is over $414 million,” he said.
Winning the “Stay” award and receiving a plaque and proclamations from Gov. John Kasich’s office and the Portage County Commissioners was Ravenna’s Smithers Rapra, which built a 10,000-square-foot addition on to its facility.
“This will allow Smithers-Rapra to conduct testing of six major tire manufacturers in Ravenna,” Ehrhart said.
Other companies that grew in their Portage County locations include Kent Display, which built an addition; Mantaline in Mantua and McMaster-Carr in Aurora.
Piping Rock Health Products of Aurora received the “Locate” Award with plans to bring 346 jobs to Aurora over the next few years, he said.
“This 19 million investment in Portage County will create 346 jobs over the next three years and will represent over $12 million in payroll,” Ehrhart said.
Others recognized for locating in Portage County include KidsLink Neurobehavioral Center in Streetsboro and the Ravenna 7 Movie Theater in downtown Ravenna.
General Aluminum of Rootstown received the “Grow” award from the Portage Development Board for building an addition with help from JobsOhio.
“Through the annual Portage County business retention and expansion program visit, the Portage Development Board became aware of an expansion at General Aluminum,” he said.
Other companies honored for their growth include Fleischmann | DS Architecture, which renovated the historic LN Gross Building in Kent as its new office; Step2 Co., which extended rail to its Streetsboro facility; and Trelleborg, which is consolidating operations in Aurora and keeping 134 jobs in the county in the process; and rpGatta, which is adding a 10,000-square-foot addition to its Gentry Road facility.
Hosted by Portage Development Board, Locate, Grow, Stay took place at the NEW Center at NEOMED in Rootstown. The economic development organization hosted the event as a way to thank companies for locating, growing and staying in Portage County, which is the heart of the PDB’s mission.
Reporter Bob Gaetjens can be reached at 330-541-9440,