It’s Labor Day weekend, and I hope whatever you are doing to wind down your summer, you are taking full advantage. Labor Day is also a reminder to those of us in local government management, that a thriving community is one that has an abundance of employers providing adequate working opportunities for its citizens. And with new employment comes added value to a community and a greater opportunity for higher revenues and resources, so the property tax burden can be spread out more evenly across the city.
With regard to those categories, I would say Columbus has had a nice winning streak of late. The story begins about two years ago, when the City began talking with a heavy-truck wash operation looking to expand to a new location. Herb Ottery, owner of Ottery Truck Wash, saw the benefits of placing that new location in Columbus. Soon after, the City worked quickly to establish a tax incremental financing district on the west side of Columbus, enveloping lands along Highway 16. Once the TIF No. 4 was created that September of 2015, Ottery Truck Wash was built just behind the West Columbus Travel Center. That was the first “domino” of businesses that were attracted to the new TIF, and as we sit here 24 months later, family-generational Columbus business Duffy Grain brought Duffy Ventures to the area, Fromm Family Foods expanded there, and a couple of weeks ago, Drexel Building Supply agreed to bring a distribution center right in the center of the district. If you can, take a drive west along 16 and see dirt moving and buildings rising in places where there were not buildings before.
Having lived in Columbus for almost all of my life, I can’t recall that much economic activity in such a short time period. As I mentioned earlier, these new companies bring with them abundant employment opportunities — Ottery Truck Wash (eight full time), Duffy Ventures (four to seven full time), Fromm Family Foods (25 to 30 full time) and Drexel (40 full time), which keeps people working, spending time and money in other Columbus business establishments and enjoying what the City has to offer. The companies also bring assessable value, which the four businesses in TIF No. 4 are expected to bring values over $11 million together to the City. Eventually, this value will turn into revenue for the City which will create opportunities for our community to enhance what we have and grow.
Why the sudden interest in Columbus you might ask? I think it’s a combination of things. First and foremost, I think Ottery, Duffy, Fromm and Drexel recognized what a tremendous community we have here. We have caring citizens who make good workers and customers. People in Columbus invest time and resources to make it a hometown for everyone. Our “built in” attributes like numerous highways and a railroad are advantageous for accessibility and shipping needs for a burgeoning company. Finally, it is the teamwork that exists within the City organization that also creates these opportunities. And I don’t mean me, I mean everyone in our organization. From those who take considerable personal time as an elected official, or appointed member of a Board, Committee or Commission to those employees in City Hall, the DPW garage, the Police and Fire Stations, the Library and the Senior Center that carry out their role on a daily basis. It is truly a team effort, and everybody has a part in it.
I really believe that Columbus is trending upward. The dust and dirt that move all over outside my office this summer on James Street may cause inconvenience and frustration, but it’s another sign of progress. I’m happy that the businesses that are committed to TIF No. 4 see that as well.
If you have any questions on this or any other issue before city government, please contact me down at City Hall at 920-623-5900 or via email at email@example.com.