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Dover-Phila 14th among 'micropolitan'
areas by Site Selection magazine

By Lee Morrison
The Times-Reporter

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Dover-New Philadelphia is tied for 14th among the top micropolitan areas in the United States as ranked by Site Selection magazine.

The magazine named a Top 133 out of nearly 700 micropolitan areas designated by the U.S. Census Bureau. The bureau defines a micropolitan area as a largely rural economy that includes a city of at least 10,000 people but less than 50,000 and covers at least one county. Of the 3,141 counties in the U.S., 694 are classified as micro areas and account for about 10 percent of America's population.

Projects within the past year which helped the Dover-New Philadelphia region achieve the recognition are the new Olympic Steel Service Center at Dover, the new Kimble Mfg. facility at New Philadelphia, the new Complete Hydraulic Services facility in the Lawrence Township Industrial Park near Bolivar and the new Plymouth Foam at Gnadenhutten.

Olympic Steel has opened a distribution center, while Kimble Mfg. merged its facilities at Midvale and near New Philadelphia into a streamlined operation in a new headquarters in the Knisely Industrial Park at New Philadelphia. Complete Hydraulic Services, a division of Ohio Cat, moved into the former Best in Plastics building to nearly double its space. Plymouth Foam merged its operations from two buildings at Newcomerstown into the renovated former Alsco plant at Gnadenhutten, which offers nearly double the space previously used.

"Even though we're not seeing a real boom because of the national economy, being 14th on the list is pretty impressive," said Harry Eadon, executive director of the Tuscarawas County Port Authority.

"The retention and expansion of existing businesses is critical to economic development. It's incredibly more difficult and more expensive to attract new businesses. Our focus over the past couple of years has been on existing businesses. That included the county Chamber of Commerce's surveys to find out what businesses need to operate and their challenges in the community and how to solve those challenges.

"Certainly, county commissioners and municipal leaders have been significant promoters in that regard. That's critical and is apparent through the growth we've seen from a number of businesses. It's really the businesses that did this. They deserve the credit for their making capital investments and being willing to make these moves. And a business locating a new operation here - like Olympic Steel - really makes this recognition important."

Other Ohio micropolitan areas ranked in the magazine's top 25 are Wooster (6th), Ashtabula (7th) and Findlay (12th).

Statesville-Mooreville, N.C., was ranked first.

Site Selection magazine also presented Ohio the Governor's Cup Award for leading the nation in new and expanded facilities in 2008. The March edition highlights the award and Ohio's economic accomplishments, which include 12 cities with top 10 rankings.

"This award serves as an important reminder that our commitment to phasing in comprehensive tax reforms, while investing in sustainable sectors of the economy, is positioning Ohio for recovery and long-term economic growth," Gov. Ted Strickland said in a press release. "But we will not rest for a moment in the midst of this national recession. Our budget continues to prioritize investments in education, health care and job-creating tax relief to encourage capital investment and grow Ohio's economy."

Strickland attributes the honor to the state's "manufacturing strengths, logistics capabilities, skilled work force and competitive business environment."

Conway Data, Site Selection's publisher, has since 1978 annually recognized the state with the most new and expanded corporate facilities as tracked by its New Plant database. The database focuses on new corporate location projects that meet at least one of three criteria: capital investment of at least $1 million; creating at least 50 new jobs; or adding at least 20,000 square feet of new floor area.

The magazine's yearly analyses are regarded by corporate real estate analysts as "the industry scoreboard." Ohio won the award with 503 projects. More Ohio cities ranked in the top 10 metropolitan and micropolitan categories for new and expanded corporate facilities than any other state.

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