Document Type

Report

Publication Date

6-15-2015

Research Center

Center for Community Planning and Development

Abstract

A small town of 2700 residents in rural eastern Geauga County, the Village of Middlefield has nonetheless taken an aggressive approach to attracting business, resulting in sizable local employment that is disproportionate to its small population. As of 2012, 5900 people were employed in the Village and its immediate vicinity, with the potential for an additional 2000 in non-­‐employment and family-­‐based businesses. Businesses have been particularly attracted by the stable, skilled workforce, the small town lifestyle, and the Village’s support for business retention and expansion.

A large proportion of the Village’s employment, in 2012 over 60%, is based in manufacturing, in particular cabinet and furniture making. This sector has seen a downturn since the recession and associated shrinkage of the homebuilding industry, which has had an overall effect on the local economy. However, as the economy rebounds, this and other sectors relevant to Middlefield are poised for potential growth. This report was prepared to provide the Village with a resource in understanding opportunities for business expansion and retention, as well as attraction of new business.

Several opportunities were identified, summarized as follows:

  • Unique and growing workforce. The Amish population in the area is robust and continuing to grow; people in the surrounding County area are highly educated. Both populations present a strong workforce foundation for business activity.
  • Support dominant businesses. As a large percentage of employment is based in a few businesses, the local economy turns with them. The Village can provide support to encourage them to grow.
  • Diversify business base. Businesses in the top 20 in the Village, many of which are in nondominant sectors, present an opportunity to diversify, and strengthen, the overall economy, by supporting their growth. At the same time, sectors are identified which are currently underrepresented, presenting an opportunity to attract new business.
  • Dominance of manufacturing. Outlooks for the region indicate that several manufacturing sectors may be poised for growth, including food manufacturing, metal fabrication, and furniture, all of which are traditional strengths for the Middlefield area. Chemical manufacturing may also have potential, along with others.
  • Potential retail growth. Population growth among the Amish, and likely growth of the population over age 65, present opportunities for growth of the retail sector over time.
  • Accommodation and food services growth. Expansion of the local tourist economy, both via the Amish community and nearby recreation opportunities, could provide for growth in this sector.
  • Potential for professional/technical business. With further study, the highly educated Village/County population presents the potential to attract diverse businesses with a need for educated workers.
  • Role of non-­‐employment businesses. Non-­‐employment businesses, typically sole proprietors, represent an additional 30% of employment in the County; these have the potential to become established businesses over time, and to add to the Village’s professional/technical sectors.

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