Community Headlines

Posted on: June 12, 2017

People to Know in Economic Development: Zachary Woodruff

Zach Woodruff-8160

What are your community’s top 3 selling points?

The City of Whitehall’s three top selling points are location, affordability and business-centric environment.

Whitehall’s location near six major interstates and highways, John Glenn Columbus International Airport, downtown Columbus, and multiple rail systems provides businesses with immediate access to Central Ohio’s transportation networks.

Whitehall has a diverse portfolio of affordable property locations and options allowing staff to match the perfect fit for businesses of all sizes from corporate users to mom and pop shops.

Finally, all businesses have the opportunity to minimize costs and maximize growth because city leaders have crafted policies that put businesses at the center of decisions. From zoning and site plan approval to plan review and inspections, Whitehall truly does work at your business’s pace.

What are the biggest challenges facing the region’s economy?

The three biggest challenges are work force, transportation and planning for the growth that will occur over the next 30 years.

Work force continues to be a problem without one single solution. Transportation continues to be an increasingly important factor in development, specifically employer attraction and employee retention. We need to expand and improve public transportation and increase the multimodal offerings throughout the region. I am excited by the opportunities that will come out of Smart Columbus. Lastly, planning for the potential addition of a million more residents in Central Ohio will take tremendous effort to get right. Modeling the next 30 years the same way we modeled the last 30 years will lead the region towards less successful results.

What is your view on the use of incentive agreements?

I believe incentives are a way to close financial gaps that would prevent development projects from occurring in our community. The city of Whitehall’s use of incentives over the past five years has been aggressive to attract and retain employers. Whitehall’s investment in our incentives has resulted in hundreds of new jobs, millions of new payroll and capital investment during that same period of time.

How can we improve the region’s work force?

The work force challenge the region faces is a problem without one solution but many. I believe that it is best addressed by locals, county and state stakeholders working together. On the local level, community development practitioners meeting with local businesses to identify workforce storages and needs is a critical component in the solution.

I am very encouraged by the work Franklin County is doing in this area to match employers with targeted, trained and willing perspective employees.

What do out-of-town prospects say their impression of Central Ohio was before they visited?

When I speak to people before they visit the Columbus region, their impression is that Columbus is a sleepy little town without much energy or character. They speak of other “larger” cities that have entertainment, sports, dining, culture and the arts as if the Columbus region is absent of those things. In always amuses me that upon visiting and exploring all of the amazing things we have to offer as a region, our sleepy little town becomes elevated and placed in the same category as those "larger” cities.

This story originally appeared in Columbus Business First.

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