County workforce seeing growth
More than 340 new industrial jobs were added in Franklin County in 2007, the majority of which came from the 50 existing industrial employers established in the county.
Much has been made of the tough economic times the nation is facing, but Mitch Mays, director of the county industrial development office, said the future appears to be bright in Franklin County.
"341 additional jobs, primarily from the growth of existing industry is pretty good," he said.
The biggest gains came from Desa Fmi and Tiffin Motor Homes, each adding approximately 100 new workers.
Desa is currently phasing in 100 new employees to accommodate an assembly operation that was relocated from California.
"Franklin County was in the running with several other states, including Tennessee and Kentucky for this operation," Mays said. "It's not like since they already had a plant here this was just a 'gimmie.' The workforce here and the incentives we were offering were an attractive package."
Tiffin's expansion comes as the company looks to manufacture more of its components in-house and brings their labor force up to approximately 1,200 in Franklin County.
And, while the hunt is still on to bring a new industry and more jobs to Franklin County, Mays said it appears, at least in the short-term, the biggest industrial gains will come from those already here.
"We're still actively recruiting new industry but it's a tough go with a lack of buildings," Mays said. "We just don't have much available industrial space in the county that's turn-key ready."
Mays' office is working on several projects, which could land new jobs here, but he said one of the office's main objectives is to see spec buildings constructed at the industrial parks.
"A spec building is just a shell," he said. "It's four walls and a roof, but it's attractive to industries looking to relocate because having a spec building can cut four months off their construction time."
A spec building could also provide an extra boost as the county seeks an automotive supplier, the likes of which have relocated to several cities nearby.
"Spec buildings are designed to be very general in nature," he said. "They're perfect for automotive suppliers but they'll fit most anyone's needs."