Morrow County’s people, parks and school districts were perceived as important strengths when Morrow County Chamber of Commerce members responded to survey questions at the January Forecast Breakfast.
The questions were used for a strength, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis by the County Development Office.
Chamber members were given cards to give their response to four questions on what strengths can give Morrow County an advantage over other counties. They were also asked to say what opportunities could be used to the county’s advantage as well as what characteristics place the county at a disadvantage.
Morrow County Development Director, Shane Farnsworth reported on the results of the analysis at the April Chamber of Commerce meeting. Of the 80 Chamber members who answered the questions, the largest number, 46, said that the people along with a caring and connected community feeling were the most valuable strengths of the county.
The second largest strength named was manufacturing and agriculture base in the county and the potential to grow both.
Some other Morrow County strengths given in the survey were: excellent school facilities and their staff, affordable housing, good and accessible healthcare and beautiful landscapes, nature areas and parks.
The analysis was taken in January and chamber members mentioned roads and bridges at the top of their list of weaknesses.
Farnsworth commented that the county has taken a major step in fixing that weakness with the passage of the road levy in March. A lack of retail businesses and restaurants were named as a second weakness.
Others listed were: job opportunities, Internet presence for many businesses, business assistance and workforce training.
Farnsworth commented on the importance of collaborating both locally and in the region. He is working with Columbus 2020 and Ohio Means Jobs as valuable resources for collaboration. Workforce training is another valuable opportunity for bringing business expansion in manufacturing and agriculture.
Brad Ebersole of Consolidated Electric Cooperative asked at the Chamber meeting about how the county can use branding to strengthen our county economy and retain and recruit new business.
Morrow County Commissioner, Dick Miller mentioned a ‘Marketing Morrow’ brochure in the works. Miller added that the commissioners and development office have been working at “developing a sense of place” for several years.
Several comments on the SWOT analysis suggested that the Amish community and Owl Creek Auction have been overlooked as strength for the county. Chris Gabrelcik suggested that “more could be done for tourism in the county by tapping into the county’s Amish community.”
Farnsworth said his goal is to develop a comprehensive strategy and plan to retain, grow and attract business to the county. The Chamber members’ SWOT Analysis material can be used by the County Development office to know how to position the county to compete for business nationally and internationally.
“We (the Morrow County Development Office) are looking to be the technical and business resource for existing businesses that are looking to grow and also for new businesses,“ Farnsworth said.
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