Featured News Archives for 2014-12

The top local story of 2014 was the economic rebound Hardin County saw throughout the year.

The top local story of 2014 was the economic rebound Hardin County saw throughout the year.

The Kenton Times staff voted on the most important stories of the year and the improved economy was the top vote-getter, followed by the opening of the new Kenton Elementary School in second place. As the last days of 2014 ticked away, unemployment was at 3.9 percent in the county, noted John Hohn, Director of Economic Development at the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance. Hohn noted many established businesses have expanded their work forces, while new jobs have also been created in manufacturing, health care and retail.In addition to the job retention, said Hohn, new companies are making Hardin County their home including Sekisui Plastics USA in Kenton, which is expected to offer 50 new jobs to the community. While there was good news for jobs and employment, continued Hohn, the county also saw an estimated $150 million in capital improvements during 2014.


Ohio Northern University President Daniel DiBiasio said the university wants to continue to partner with Hardin County to help it grow and prosper.

Ohio Northern University President Daniel DiBiasio said the university wants to continue to partner with Hardin County to help it grow and prosper.

“We can sense and feel the momentum in our county and we feel a partner in that,” he told the some 170 people Thursday at the Christmas Luncheon of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, held at the Hardin County Armory in Kenton. "We are grateful there are so many ways we are able to work in partnership with the community,” DiBiasio said.

Part of the partnership involves the county helping ONU.

The county commissioners and the Kenton CIC enabled the university to refinance $65 million of bond debt which saved ONU nearly $4 million, DiBiasio said.

He said the new dean of the College of Pharmacy, Steve Martin, is seeking to revive collaborations with the Kenton-Hardin Health Department and Hardin Memorial Hospital to better serve the health needs of the community. DiBiasio also noted that his wife, Chris, who leads community relations at the university, works collaboratively as a member of the Alliance board.

“We want to know how many other ways ONU and the community can partner together to make resources available to Kenton and Hardin County,” he said.

DiBiasio told the gathering “Christmas came early” at ONU this year with the announcement that the College of Engineering has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Kern Foundation in Waukesha, Wis. It will help ONU’s mechanical engineering students to apply the entrepreneurial mindset in their studies.

ONU also received news it has been named a College of Distinction in a recent college guidebook. DiBiasio said only 10 universities in Ohio and 400 nationwide received the honor, which recognizes efforts to engage students with a committed faculty, leading to successful outcomes. He also noted ONU’s success in the class of 2014 placement survey. He said 95 percent of the students are either employed or in an advanced education program.

DiBiasio said the ONU Holiday Spectacular just completed its 20th year, during which it has been seen by some 135,000 people through its performances at the university and in Lima.

He also announced that on July 4, 2015, ONU will be hosting the Lima Symphony Orchestra at the Ada campus and invited area residents to attend.

DiBiasio’s comments followed an upbeat assessment of the county’s economic outlook by Jon Cross, president and CEO of the Alliance.

“We’re chasing deals,” said Cross, citing interest in the retail, restaurant and manufacturing sectors. “Hardin County is the new hot spot of NW Ohio,” he said.


Kenton City Council in November was encouraged to “start building a war chest” to help attract new industry to the community.

Kenton City Council in November was encouraged to “start building a war chest” to help attract new industry to the community. That “war chest” promoted by Jon Cross, president of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, is expected to total $75,000 to begin 2015.

The city had designated $25,000 for economic development in its 2014 budget. The finance committee has proposed adding another $25,000 from this year’s carryover funds – a move yet to be approved by the council. Plus, the 2015 budget before council includes an additional $25,000 appropriation for economic development efforts.

The money will be combined in an economic development capital projects fund, the creation of which was adopted by council Monday night following suspension of its three-reading rule. The fund will be used to assist in capital projects that will advance the economic development of the city, according to the legislation. City Council authorization is required to use money from the fund.

Cross encouraged the city to build the war chest to offer local incentives to attract new industry.

He said at council’s Nov. 10 meeting that “anything we can do to give ourselves a slight advantage” over other communities vying for a new industry is the goal of the fund.

That’s because of the announcement that Sekisui Plastics USA will be opening its second U.S. plant in Kenton at the former Innoplas building on U.S. 68, just south of Kenton. The new plant is expected to create 50 jobs and is scheduled to open in July. Cross said until the plant gets up and running, anyone wanting to submit resumes can do so through the Ohio Means Jobs Hardin County office in Kenton.

He also announced the Alliance will be restructuring its committees into divisions of chamber and tourism, economic development and community development (formerly downtown development).

Jacqualine Fitzgerald will be heading the community development committee and she announced Kenton could soon be getting a new restaurant.

Hot Head Burritos, a quick serve Mexican restaurant, wants to open a location in Kenton. The company is looking for a franchise operator and anyone interested can contact Fitzgerald at the Alliance office. The Ohio-based company already has 59 locations, mainly in Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Cross reported the Alliance and the Downtown Revitalization Committee is continuing to receive mainly positive feedback on the proposal for two sides of diagonal parking on the north side of the square between Main and Detroit streets. Columbus Street would be made one-way in that block.

The committee is continuing to gather more information before presenting the plan to City Council. Cross also noted that the Window Wonderland project in downtown Kenton continues to generate plenty of comments. The Alliance’s Facebook page has over 10,000 hits about the holiday decorations project. He praised Fitzgerald’s creativity and vision in coming up with the idea.