Wood County Places in Top 10 for New Economy Index
WOOD COUNTY, OH (Sentinel-Tribune)- Wood County has been ranked among the top 10 small counties in the U.S. in a new economy index.
Unlike other "quality of life" surveys, which are a "little squishy," the National Fourth Economy Community Index is based on hard data, according to Steve McKnight, of the Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting. "This is all data driven," McKnight said this morning of the rankings.
Wood County was ranked ninth in the nation, and is the only Ohio county to make the list.
The index considers five areas: investment, talent, sustainability, place and diversity of counties with populations of 100,000 to 150,000. Those criteria, according to the consulting firm, serve as a foundation for future economic success in the areas of wage and employment growth, education levels, drive times, home values, minority business ownership, agricultural capacity and population density.
Wood County popped up on the Fourth Economy's radar when it started collecting data, McKnight said.
The firm works with companies looking to relocate and invest in an area, collecting data that helps leadership decide where to build. "We look at what's important to those types of modern investments," McKnight said.
"These locations are really interesting to future investment," he said of the top 10 counties.
Other counties making the list are: Clarke County, Georgia; Monroe County, Indiana; Johnson County, Iowa; Tompkins County, New York; Lee County, Alabama; La Crosse County, Wisconsin; Olmsted County, Minnesota; Warren County, Kentucky; and Randall County, Texas.
The ranking came as a pleasant surprise to Tom Blaha, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission.
"It was totally unsolicited," which adds to its validity, Blaha said this morning. "This was totally unexpected."
The Fourth Economy is defined as the convergence of the nation's first three economic bases of agriculture, industry, and innovative technology.
"That's something we've been pushing in Wood County for about 20 years," Blaha said. "We've got the best of all those."
"I'm pretty happy being ninth out of 10 in the nation," he said. "It kind of validates the things we've been doing here."
McKnight concurred that his consulting firm had no pre-existing relationship with Wood County, and that the data collected put the county on his firm's radar screen.
The ranking should now put Wood County on the list of companies looking to relocate, he added.
"Absolutely," he said, of the positive push the ranking should have for the county as businesses try to determine where to invest. "Any placement on this list will put them on a better radar screen."
Click here to read the entire National Fourth Economy Community Index.