Local economic development group looks to 2022 at annual summit

CARROLL — Business owners and business leaders have talked a lot this year about of the struggles companies are having finding employees.

That was also one of the topics this week at the Fairfield 33 Development Alliance annual meeting at the Fairfield County Workforce Center.

Fairfield County Economic Development Director Rick Szabrak
Fairfield County Economic Development Director Rick Szabrak

"We want to make sure the companies we have here can fill their jobs and that we're meeting their needs," alliance executive director Rick Szabrak said. "We don't want lose those companies. They've put a big investment for years into our community and we want to make sure that's continuing to pay off for them."

Szabrak is also the Fairfield County Economic Development Director.

He also said economic leaders want to make sure there are utilities and land to develop in attracting companies to the area.

"While we want to focus on our current businesses and making sure that we help fill those jobs and meet their needs," Szabrak said. "We want to make sure that we still have an eye on the future and that we're finding other opportunities for development."

The business leaders also looked back at 2021. Szabrak said of the highlights is the number of distribution centers around Canal Winchester.

"That's something that's new to the (U.S.) 33 corridor," he said. "Most distribution centers have been located along I-70 somewhere or near Rickenbacker (International Airport). So we're starting to see that move this way mainly because it's hard to find people. Distribution centers are trying to locate closer to population centers, so we're starting to see some growth there."

Szabrak said large national companies like DHL and Pitney Bowes have moved into distribution centers locally.

"Those jobs more and more are starting to become better jobs and pay more than they did years ago," he said. "It's just another great thing about our economy here being very diverse in both central Ohio and Fairfield County."

Szabrak said another 2021 highlight was Google's plan to open a data center in Lancaster.

"Both Canal and Lancaster do a great job of looking ahead and making sure they had land to bring new businesses in," he said.



Twitter: @JeffDBarron

This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Local economic development group looks to 2022 in annual summit