Findlay, the second-largest city in Northwest Ohio, has been ranked as the country’s top micropolitan city for economic development as of 2021. This is the eighth year in a row the city has earned the top spot as determined by real estate and economic development magazine Site Selection.
Other Ohio regions to make it in the top 50 include Fremont and Tiffin (both tied for tenth place), Greenville, Sidney, Wapakoneta, Cambridge, Van Wert and Zanesville.
Site Selection has been annually ranking micropolitans since 2004. Each year, voting is based on new projects and economic expansions coming out of the country’s 543 micropolitan cities.
These projects must meet one or more of the following criteria: an investment of $1 million or more, 20 or more jobs created as a direct result of the project, or 10,000 or more square feet constructed.
Contrary to a metropolitan, defined as an urbanized area containing more than 50,000 inhabitants, a micropolitan must be a non-metro region with a population no less than 10,000 and no more than 50,000. Findlay ranks right below the maximum cut-off at just over 40,000 inhabitants.
Located in the heart of Hancock County, Findlay qualified for first place of 2021 with 24 new and existing industry projects and $160 million in investments towards expansion, machinery and equipment.
Some of these new developments include major retailers such as Amazon, Freudenberg-NOK, Hamlet Protein, American Plastics, Whirlpool and Ball Corp.
“Over the last few years, this regional—national recognition, it’s really put a spotlight on us as this top micropolitan and people are starting to take notice,” says Tim Mayle, director of the Findlay-Hancock County Office of Economic Development.
“Top micropolitan is not a subjective measure,” he continues. “You have to have companies that are either constructing brick-and-mortar, hiring people or investing capital.”
Thriving and business friendly
Those three metrics are precisely how Mayle and his team measure their success—new construction, job creation and capital investment. All of which soared to new highs in 2021.
“The number one area we focus on is retention expansion of existing businesses. Last year when we had 24 qualifying projects for Site Selection, 22 of those came from our existing companies.”
“Which is true in almost any community,” he adds. “The majority of job creation comes from companies that are already there.”
Mayle emphasizes the value of being able to shape the city’s narrative as a thriving, business-friendly micropolitan, in turn attracting investments which then feed directly back into city-wide improvements, creating a more substantial economy.
So, how will we see this success continue in 2022?
Though he can’t speak to the progress of the other 542 micropolitans, Mayle can, however, reveal what to expect from Findlay for the remainder of the year.
“We’ve got five companies right now that expect to do building expansions or new construction. Each one would be over 100,000 square feet or more,” he says.
He also alludes to a yet-to-be-announced company bringing in a $91 million investment in machinery and equipment later in the year.
With the economy bouncing back post-COVID, Mayle emphasizes the pressure on businesses, local ones especially, to innovate and find ways to increase capacity once again.
“We’re going to see more construction than we’ve seen in the past couple of years,” he says. “Without a doubt.”
With that said, it’s safe to assume that Findlay’s reign as top micropolitan is nowhere near its end.