Madison County, Ohio, is strategically located and rich in assets making it an ideal place for investment. The county enjoys a robust transportation network with access to rail, airports, highways and markets across America. Additionally, Madison County enjoys a strong regional workforce from which it can draw, and this asset has experienced significant investment to support the region’s economic viability.
Backed by strong education systems, Madison County has created and fostered a progressive, business-friendly environment and reinforces this through local, county and state leadership and its future-minded policies and initiatives. These efforts ensure that the necessary resources and incentives are available to help economies thrive and prosper.
Madison County Future Inc. (MCFI) is one of the organizations that are working collaboratively to foster and support the growth and prosperity of the local and regional economy. Established as a Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) in 2009, Madison County Future Inc. serves as the principle regional economic development agency for both the county and its many communities.
Madison County Future Inc. works with new and existing businesses through attraction, retention and expansion efforts. It supports initiatives that encourage investment, markets the county’s many assets and showcases the benefits associated with living and doing business in Madison County.
The organization’s strategic plan centers on four actions: workforce development initiatives, making the necessary investments in local and regional infrastructure, securing investments that will assist in the achievement of the county’s economic development goals and marketing Madison County’s assets.
Madison County has clearly defined itself as a pro-business community. It works in concert with neighboring Clark County for the shared benefit of the region, and the two have come together on I70ohio.com, a website and regional marketing initiative that is dedicated to branding the I-70 corridor of which both counties are a part.
The I70ohio.com website highlights the connectivity and accessibility to transportation infrastructure that the I-70 corridor brings to the region. With access to four interstates, Madison County is within a day’s drive of sixty percent of the U.S. population, fifty percent of the Canadian population, sixty-three percent of all U.S. company headquarters and eighty percent of all U.S. manufacturers.
Next-day-delivery can be made to sixty-nine percent of the U.S. population and to seventy-four percent of wholesalers nationwide. In addition to interstate access, Madison County has connections to rail infrastructure and is within twenty-five miles of two national airports making it a perfect location for distribution and logistics. There are four shovel-ready sites in the I-70 corridor, ideal for many industries.
Madison County is home to Ace Hardware, Target, Bon-Ton and Staples distribution centers, all of which have found great advantage in strategically locating in Madison County. Bon-Ton chose to establish its over-700,000-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center in West Jefferson and employs 199 employees at the site. This accounted for 130 net new jobs in the State of Ohio.
Other strong economic sectors in Madison County include agriculture, manufacturing, research and development, healthcare and retail. Some of the largest employers in Madison County are Stanley Electric, Nissen Chemitec, Battelle, M. H. Eby Inc. and Keihin Thermal Technology.
The county is a part of Foreign Trade Zone #138 which is the seventh most active in the U.S. The county has community reinvestment areas, enterprise zones, tax abatements, and it undertakes significant workforce development initiatives to encourage economic growth and development.
Tolles Career & Technical Center offers customized programs for workforce training and development. Tolles is home to the Robotic & Advanced Manufacturing Technology Education Collaborative (RAMTEC) facility which gives workers the tools and training required to operate the equipment, such as CNC machines, used by local manufacturers.
Madison County Future Inc. works in close collaboration with Tolles Career and Technical Center, Clark State Community College and Columbus State Community College to provide workforce training programs. Partnerships have also been established with local school districts to address the workforce development needs of local and regional businesses.
“We’re having success with developing our workforce. We have a good partnership with Tolles Career and Technical Center, and we also have good partnerships with Ohio State, Clark State in Springfield, as well as Columbus State in Columbus. We collaborate with them when it comes to identifying the needs of our companies and bringing the solutions to them,” explained David Kell, executive director of MCFI.
One such initiative is the Madison County Workforce Readiness Credential where high school students have the opportunity to develop professional or “soft” skills by meeting criteria established by local businesses. Examples include a 97% attendance average during their senior year in high school, one organized tour of a local business and completing soft skills assessments on OhioMeansJobs.com. If a student earns the credential by the time they graduate high school, they will be considered job-ready in Madison County and will have the chance to secure an interview with fifteen local companies that participate in this program.
MCFI also works with Columbus 2020 and JobsOhio to address the needs of the business community. The county has access to a workforce of just under 90,000 people and draws from a wide radius in the county and the region. Business and community leaders are working to ensure that available positions are filled and local workforce needs are met.
“We have the Workforce Readiness Credential that we’ve developed using kind of a grass roots approach, but we also have the RAMTEC facility which is available to businesses,” said Kell. “We’re creating a business climate that makes it an attractive place for business to want to either grow or locate to.”
“When it comes to working with new business that comes to the County, we work closely with them during the attraction process, but that’s not where it stops. We have a good business retention and expansion program.”
M. H. Eby, located in West Jefferson, is a designer and manufacturer of aluminum livestock, equipment and utility trailers and recently worked with Madison County officials to facilitate the construction of its 17,000-square-foot facility. The $1 million in investment not only retained thirty positions that were at risk of being relocated to Iowa, but created twelve new jobs.
Many companies have benefitted from the unified efforts of Madison County Future Inc., the chamber of commerce, local workforce development initiatives and other incentives and business supports. “We have those tools that make it attractive for companies to locate here in our community,” Kell said.
Honda has been an economic driver in Ohio since it first opened in the state in 1983. Madison County, in turn, supports Honda in several ways. The county serves as a supply chain hub and manufacturing center for many companies that support Honda’s operations.
“We’re positioned really well with Honda and our suppliers here locally,” said Kell. “We’re always looking for new employers to come to the area because we feel like we have a great community. We know we have a great business climate through what our organization offers as a support to local businesses.”
In 2014, Stanley Electric announced an $82 million investment in the construction of a new 60,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in London, Ohio. As a result, 150 new jobs will be created at the lighting and climate control unit manufacturer, and this has been another critical support to Honda’s operations.
Keihin Thermal Technology of America manufactures HVAC equipment for Honda and recently expanded into a 100,000-square-foot facility in Mount Sterling. The result of this expansion was significant property investment and ninety new jobs. Mount Sterling Holdings LLC was responsible for the construction and lease of the new facility to Keihin.
Agriculture and agricultural supply also play an important economic role in Madison County. Each year in September, the Farm Science Review at the Molly Caren Agriculture Center takes place in London, Ohio. This annual agricultural education tradeshow draws over 100,000 people and showcases some of the latest industry innovations.
Beck’s Hybrids, which serves the agricultural sector, recently completed construction on a 53,700-square-foot distribution site located in Deer Creek Township. The $6 million facility houses the company’s sales operations. It has five full-time employees who were hired for distribution support and two full-time practical farm researchers.
Not only is Madison County business-friendly, but it is also a great place to live and visit. Rich in natural beauty, trails, outdoor recreation and green spaces, Madison County is a retreat from the city that still enjoys proximity to the services of a larger urban center. Madison County truly has something for everyone.
The goal of Madison County Future Inc. is to market these assets. “When you talk to site selection consultants or businesses that are looking for a site, they say you need five things: water, sewer, electric, gas and fiber,” Kell explained. “Those all need to be available at the site, and if they’re not, you don’t have a property that looks attractive. We need to be sure the infrastructure is in place to accommodate.”
In London, Ohio, infrastructure investments are ongoing, including a new water tower and water treatment facility, in a project totaling $12 million. Mount Sterling has invested nearly $13 million for road improvements and a new wastewater treatment plant. West Jefferson is also spending close to $17 million in improving its wastewater treatment capacity.
Madison County Commissioners are investing $7 million in building a new water tower at U.S. 42 and I-70 to better serve businesses located along that corridor. This will prove attractive to potential investments, and it will have long-lasting effects into the future.
In creating a pro-business community, Madison County Future Inc. is working to bring good-paying jobs to the county to ensure an exceptional quality of life for all. Local leadership is making the necessary investments and undertaking efforts to ensure the future is bright and that the county’s full potential has been actualized.
“We have a good solid community that is business-friendly and resident-friendly as well. It’s a good place to live and a good place to do business,” concluded Kell.