While discussing what local businesses want most to accomplish, team members from the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation kept returning to one word: thrive.
Now they hope to spread their resulting “Thrive in Fulton County” campaign far and wide to instill pride in county residents and attract new businesses from outside.
To that end, the FCEDC this month launched a one-minute, 10-second video with the slogan as the title on its website and on YouTube. Through a series of quick edits viewers are presented with an overview of the county’s industries, agriculture, culture, and recreation.
Produced by Madison Avenue Group of Toledo with $2,000 raised from private contributions, the video is the first in a series the FCEDC has planned to tout Fulton County’s strengths and attractions.
“‘Thrive’ is the word we kept using, so it made sense,” FCEDC Executive Director Matt Gilroy said. “We’re using it also to show our own citizenry that thriving in Fulton County is possible for everyone here. We’re sort of dipping our toe, but I like that slogan. I think it’s meaningful.”
He said the inaugural video was made to change people’s perception of the county.
“The idea behind it is to have people here recognize what there is to do, and what types of jobs are out there for Fulton County,” Gilroy said.
A second video, which likely will be produced in the fall, will concentrate on recreation and tourism. A third will focus on business, and will showcase available sites and buildings and their amenities, and the advantages of local railway and highway transportation.
But videos don’t make up the FCEDC’s entire marketing arsenal. The relatively new 95-member corporation, which debuted in 2014, also relies on its website, fcedc.com, to sell the county to prospective businesses. Postings include demographics about local government and school systems sought by business owners interested in setting up or relocating their shops, and information about current county activities.
“I’m a strong believer that momentum begets momentum,” Gilroy said. “We are a business-friendly county that is attracting other businesses to the area.”
The corporation’s marketing plan includes site consultants – commercial real estate brokers that work with manufacturers and service-oriented companies to determine which location is best to relocate or expand. Gilroy said they focus on specific industries the corporation thinks best suit Fulton County.
Since its incorporation, the FCEDC has attracted Pride Gage, which specializes in designing custom measurement tools for nationwide manufacturing. The company purchased a building in Metamora in 2015, and is finishing up renovations.
The FCEDC also attracted NatureFresh Farms to a location just outside of Delta that has since been annexed by the village. The first of a dozen 15-acre greenhouses planned for the site by 2022 just produced its first crop of hothouse tomatoes for retail distribution.
Presently, the FCEDC has 18 active projects pending. Gilroy said four or five could come to fruition, but the process for each could take several years.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.
Additionally, the corporation is assisting established county businesses like Con Agra, TRW, and Pettisville Grain with expansion plans by offering tax abatements and incentives, pursuing low-interest financing, and seeking grants for funding in areas such as utility infrastructure.
Gilroy said the FCEDC adheres to the 80/20 principle of economic development: About 80 percent of economic growth occurs with companies that expand, hire new people or invest in capital. Their activity then attracts another 20 percent of businesses from outside the county.
“We do all that we can to support the companies here that grow and invest,” he said.
But the corporation’s main thrust is technology.
“It’s sort of like buying a new car. Twenty years ago you’d go to the car lot. Now you’re going online,” Gilroy said. “Companies are very, very aware of the community because of the research that they’ve already done.”
Shawn Ferguson of Tomahawk Printing in Wauseon, and a member of the FCEDC Marketing and Publicity team, said he’s fully supportive of the slogan. “I think it’s an extremely effective campaign,” he said.
He also offered kudos to the FCEDC, saying, “We as a small business have benefitted greatly from its efforts. It’s just been astounding.”
Gilroy said the FCEDC is unusual in that it has so many members on a county level, more to his knowledge than economic development organizations in surrounding counties. But he isn’t complaining.
“I’ve been very happy with the level of engagement that we have with our members,” he said.
David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.