Johnstown Independent

County development manager's view

Johnstown ripe for new business development

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Johnstown is ready for new business development, particularly light manufacturing and assembly, according to Licking County development manager Dan Evers.

He addressed the Johnstown administration's weekly multi-committee meeting Oct. 8 at the village offices.

Evers is leading a countywide effort to advertise Licking County's assets to potential commercial and industrial investors.

"We don't really look at it as, 'What does the community need?' but (instead), 'What does it offer?'" he said.

Evers said Johnstown offers a sizable business park with infrastructure in place, with additional sites and infrastructure coming.

"The community is positioned for light manufacturing, assembly and other manufacturing support industries," he said. "This is a niche the community is well-fit to serve."

Evers said Johnstown already has a core of solid successful businesses within the community today. Those businesses, he said, also have the potential to expand existing sites.

"There's great opportunity for organic growth, as well as new investment," he said.

Evers said it's just as important to meet and get to know the existing businesses in addition to advertising Johnstown and the rest of Licking County to new businesses looking to expand, relocate or start from scratch.

"We're very pleased to have (Evers) come and speak with us," Johnstown Village Council member Carol Van Deest said.

She said she agrees with Evers' assessment that Johnstown could be a good host for businesses of about 100 employees. She said she also understands that the county is marketing Johnstown as just one part of Licking County.

"They don't just focus on one area," she said.

Van Deest said Evers and village planner Jim Lenner are integral to how the village markets itself to new economic development. In fact, because Johnstown currently can't afford an economic development director of its own, the village is depending upon Evers and Lenner, who is a member of the Grow Licking County Community Investment Corp., to do most of the marketing.

"We're happy that Jim is on the CIC," she said. "I think that's how we're working through things at this point. ... A group marketing together is better than one community on its own."

Evers said he believes that overall, marketing Licking County to potential developers is going well, particularly in the wake of the Ascena Retail Group Inc. expanding its operation in the Etna Corporate Park. He said the county has responded to 30 inquiries from outside commercial developers since April, and he's been able to suggest multiple suitable sites within the county to each inquiry.

"We're not saying we just have this one site that works," Evers said.

He said he is able to tell each inquiry the county has many sites, including those within Johnstown.

Van Deest said it's her understanding that the Johnstown Industrial Park is approaching capacity and that it could be time to begin considering other places to establish development sites. She said she hopes, however, that any new site, if possible, would not contribute to truck traffic through the village.

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