City's new site targets economic development
Antonio Benton's ties to Worthington date back to his days at Colonial Hills Elementary School.
He knew the community would be the ideal place to launch his business.
Benton's success story is one of many shared on the city's new economic development site, BusinessWorthington.org, which is dedicated to attracting new companies, big and small.
The owner of Mid-American Mortgage Solutions has been serving residential real estate customers throughout Ohio since April 2004.
"I always tell people, having grown up here, this is a great place to own a business, and if you take care of people in Worthington, your business will prosper, and that's been the case for us," he said in a YouTube video testimonial, which appears on the website.
Two years ago, the city decided its website needed a makeover, which included a new endeavor to put more eyes on Worthington as a place for a business owner to expand his or her enterprise.
The city turned to local agency Fahlgren Mortine to design the new format, which, economic development manager Jeff Harris said, has been a proven winner in other communities.
"We asked who we should be be going after and how is our money best spent?" he said. "We knew we weren't going to market Chicago or Seattle. We were told to look at our region and those who work here or have some connection to the community."
The website, which has been rolled out with a soft launch, includes a number of video testimonials from businesspeople who share the message firsthand about the benefits of doing business in Worthington.
The idea is to populate the site with fresh testimonials on a regular basis.
"Folks are going to recognize these faces, or at least the names of the companies," Harris said. "I really think it's the videos that make the site stand out."
The design was based on sites awarded by the International Economic Development Coalition. Along with testimonials, the site provides a one-stop location for information about grants, property-tax assistance, demographics and real estate.
Competition for development and jobs can be fierce in central Ohio. Several communities, including Worthington, have acted on a regional anti-business-poaching agreement proposed in March 2012 by Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman.
Towns and cities in the region could offer incentives to create jobs but not in the case where a company simply wants to shift jobs from community to community with the hope of gaining tax breaks.
Last year, Columbus offered Bob Evans a $14 million incentive package to stay in the city, but the restaurant chain chose New Albany.
"We have an agreement with Columbus," Harris said. "But most of the time, the people we talk with already have a connection to (Worthington), and they're pretty set on Worthington for various reasons. We want to play on those connections with this website."