Despite a sluggish recession across the nation, Oregon has seen some investment in the local economy in the last 12 months.
Gary Thompson, executive director of the Oregon Economic Development Foundation, said the city has seen new retail, the construction and opening of a new BP-Husky quality assurance laboratory, and more business inquiries about industrial development.
BP-Husky built the quality assurance laboratory at DuPont and Cedar Point roads to replace a former lab that was antiquated, said Thompson. “It was built by local employees and opened on October 26,” he said.
The lab, which tests fuel, took 12 months to build.
“It’s a very beautiful place,” he said.
Prospects include a Spartan Logistics’ spec building that was submitted for two local projects,, land on Blue Heron Drive that was submitted to two state of Ohio leads by the Regional Growth Partnership, and the former Foodtown Building on Navarre Avenue that was submitted for two call center project leads, one local and one from the state of Ohio.
“One of the leads for the Foodtown building is for a corporate call center that would have a little more presence in the community if it were to come to Oregon, and the other one is more of an IT call center, such as a computer help desk operation for some large company,” said Thompson.
On the corner of Wynn and Cedar Point roads, Spartan Logistics is getting a 80,000-square-foot warehouse facility ready to go, said Thompson.
“They’re connecting all the sewer and water lines. They’re pretty easy to build once the concrete goes in. Not only does Spartan Logistics have a couple of potential clients, there are some other local projects that might be interested in that,” said Thompson. “They’ve already begun construction, which has an advantage for some people because you can get a new building designed the way you want it and you don’t have to wait. We’re hoping maybe by the end of the year, somebody will be in there and we’ll have some jobs going into that building.”
And state officials have had some light manufacturing leads on city property on Blue Heron Drive, said Thompson.
“There are eight lots still available. Those lots could be combined. If someone wanted all 20 acres, they could use that,” he said. The leads were very specific on their building parameters. The more specific you get, the harder it is to find the building. If they can’t find the building that suits them, they would entertain building a new facility. All the things that Oregon has – access to the port, proximity to state and interstate highways, and the discontinuation of a drawbridge that impedes deliveries, makes it attractive. Seven years ago, maybe the Blue Heron site wouldn’t get submitted to the state because we don’t meet those criteria. Today, we’re in the mix. When you whittle down all the people in northwest Ohio putting up sites, the sites on Blue Heron Drive made it to the top tier for submission to Columbus.”
In the last year, Thompson said he’s seen a 25 percent increase in the number of industrial leads from Columbus.
“It’s nice to getting eight to 12 of those leads per month compared to one or two,” he said.
On the retail side, La Forchetta Di Pasqualone, an Italian Restaurant on Woodville Road in the former Chez Vin, and Polar Freeze, next to Subway on Navarre Avenue, have recently opened, said Thompson. And Pet Finatics, a small family owned pet store, opened last year on Navarre.
“When I look at the retail side of things, a lot of times you see a shuffling of stores moving among Northwood, East Toledo and Oregon,” said Thompson. “At the end of the day, nobody really wins because we’re just moving things around on a chessboard. “Lately, though, I’ve seen entrepreneurs invest money and start new businesses. These are individual, home grown people investing their own money and capital into the community. And I think that’s a pretty good sign.”