Sweet addition

Sweet addition

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Holmes County continues to give businesses experiencing growth a reason to remain solidly entrenched in Holmes County.

Resolution 07-18-22-3 approving the county’s newest enterprise agreement was passed by the commissioners, and Mark Leininger, executive director at Holmes County Economic Development Council, said this adds to a growing list of local companies that have utilized the program. He said the enterprise zone agreement program has helped stabilize the county in keeping its core of thriving businesses.

This agreement was with Walnut Creek Chocolate Company, owner of Coblentz Chocolate Company. Leininger said owner Jason Coblentz contacted him about the company’s need to expand its business.

According to Leininger, Coblentz said increased sales over the past couple of years have resulted in an increase in personnel, and that has led to the need for a larger manufacturing facility along with equipment.

“They are currently out of space to grow any further in their existing facility, which was completed in 2019,” Leininger said. “That is the production facility located on County Road 144 near Walnut Creek.”

He said Coblentz was proposing the construction of an addition to the facility of approximately 46,269 square feet. He said Walnut Creek Chocolate Company has purchased an additional 5.7 acres of land that adjoins the current parcel on County Road 144.

Coblentz estimated the cost of the new project would be approximately $3.9 million, and the completion of the project would result in the addition of 12 full-time positions.

“Completion of the project would allow them to accomplish two objectives,” Leininger said. “One, it would allow for additional growth in adding personnel with the purchase of additional production equipment. The second objective is that they could consolidate their production operations.”

Leininger said Coblentz Chocolate currently has some of its production equipment and facilities at its retail store on state Route 515 in Walnut Creek. Completion of the new plan would allow the company to move all its production facilities to the new structure on County Road 144 just east of Walnut Creek.

“That move would transfer approximately 30 positions from the state Route 515 facility to the expanded facility,” Leininger said.

The enterprise agreement is the standard 10-year at a 50% tax reduction rate, which it has been since the program’s inception.

Leininger said notices of the agreement were submitted to the local schools on June 8, and documents were submitted to Holmes County prosecutor Matt Muzik for his approval.

While the enterprise zone agreement program now soars past 40 overall, this marks the fifth agreement in 2022.

“It’s become a nice partnership and a good tool to have in our toolbox that the state of Ohio allows us to do,” commissioner Dave Hall said.

Miller said while the program can be used to entice new businesses into a county, thus far the focus has been on encouraging local, established businesses that are growing to remain entrenched in Holmes County.

“We have plenty of businesses expanding in Holmes County,” Miller said. “What we need to do now is find employees.”

“We haven’t used it as a recruitment tool,” Leininger said.

Resolution 07-18-22-1 was passed by the commissioners, accepting the mid-year budget tax resolution for 2023. Miller said it was a formality the commissioners go through every year in helping them plan for the upcoming annual budget created at the end of the year.

According to Bob Sigler, Holmes County deputy clerk, each of the county departments submitted its mid-year budget to give the commissioners an idea of what they will need for 2023.

“Everything is right in line,” Sigler said. “I didn’t see anything extraordinary. We will sit down and crunch the hard numbers and do the real budget work in late December and early January.”

The Holmes County auditor’s budget was taken out of the proposal because commissioner Dave Hall’s wife Anita Hall is the Holmes County auditor, and he must excuse himself from voting on any resolution containing anything to do with that office.

The commissioners also passed Resolution 07-18-22-4, allowing residing commissioner chairman Miller to sign a change of order form for the current turn lane being created on state Route 39 at ProVia, east of Walnut Creek.

Holmes County assistant engineer Cory Baker said the change order was a formality that would cover expenses for extra time and material it took to install the storm sewer drainage. He said that occurred because of all the rock formations that were encountered.

“It’s already been approved by ProVia, and they are covering the cost,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of fill there.”

Resolution 07-18-22-5 approves a Title IV-D contract to better serve the Holmes County Department of Job & Family Services Child Support Enforcement Division in conjunction with the Holmes County Court of Common Pleas. This is an annual contract.