The Village of Middlefield is Open For Business
Thursday, December 27, 2012
When Mayor Ben Garlich took office in January 2012, he found Middlefield Village to be financially sound with infrastructure available.
It was home to several large national and international companies.
"We thought we had all the ingredients to bake the cake, why aren't we baking the cake?" Garlich said.
Garlich, who is also general manager for Dillen Products Inc., said Middlefield has several advantages over the competition that should be attractive to businesses looking to relocate to the area.
"We have infrastructure and support. We have a cooperative administration. We've got property available. We're close, if you look at our demographics here as far as servicing the major customer base of this country, which is east of the Mississippi, we're within 10 hours of it," he said, adding companies like Dillen Products and KraftMaid ship to customers all over the country from their Middlefield plants.
"It's just a great area, location of the country to be in for manufacturing," Garlich added.
Despite its financial footing and stellar reputation, Garlich said Middlefield needs to be aggressive in promoting itself and attracting business.
"I think all areas are feeling the crunch of a shrinking economy. We had a 100-year-old company here that closed a few years ago. We had a couple of manufacturing sites that have been abandoned, that are now being filled back up. I think ... we're losing our home rule authority," he said. "We see shrinking budgets every year. There are some local occurrences, but there's also governmental."
The mayor said he spends considerable time analyzing the village's finances and is concerned about where things are going.
"I think every year it's going to get worse and I think we've got to take the bull by the horns and be proactive," he explained.
With the help of Margie Wilbur, owner of Write 2 the Point marketing communications firm, several clever slogans were brought forth for the village economic development committee to mull over, said village Administrator Dan Weir.
They ended up choosing "Middlefield Means Business."
"If you want to come here to do business, we'll roll out the red carpet. We're looking at ways to accommodate," Garlich said.
Recently, the village was successful in working with Cardinal Schools and Middlefield Township to create a mutually beneficial economic package.
"We all realize that we need to work together, so Middlefield means business," he said. "We've got a fast-track committee. When you come in, we put you on the escalator and we take you to the top. We've taken care of everything."
Since February of this year, Middlefield has targeted almost 14,000 manufacturers officials feels would be a good fit for the community.
"We try to get the word out to each of them. We've got a website that I think is world class; I think it's the best small village website anywhere," Garlich said, adding he has the full support of council.
The mayor said there has been "lots of activity" since the launching of his economic development campaign.
"Have we brought a big deal home yet? Not yet. We've got some in the works, but lots of activity. It's encouraging to hear local businesses call you and say I love what you're doing," Garlich said, adding there is more to come.
"Everyone's excited about the fact we're making an effort here to grow,"?he said. "The important part is we have the process in place to make sure it stays vibrant and current. It's not going to get stale."
Tom Caldwell, CEO of Middlefield Banking Company said the community is a huge part of his business's success.
"As much as we'd like to think that the bank has contributed to the growth of the community, there's no doubt that the community has contributed to the growth of the bank," he said.
Middlefield Bank has been doing business in Middlefield for 111 years, added Caldwell, who has been with the bank for about 26 years.
He applauds the village's effort and has extended his and the bank's support.
"Middlefield is your typical small town in a rural setting. It's a great, comfortable place to do business and to live," Caldwell said. "I believe the mayor and the council, along with the staff, have put together a very nice plan for continued growth of the village, but it's a nice planned managed growth.
Caldwell said the community offers a "great mix of industrial business, commercial business, retail business and we still have what we consider affordable housing."
"Even though it's a small town, you see a lot of the amenities that you would find in bigger cities," he said. "When you look at the overall community, it's that type of a typical small town where everybody works together for the success of the community and I think we all benefit from it."
The village has first-class safety services and a fire department as well as a great school system, Caldwell said.
"So, there are a lot of advantages to moving to and working in Middlefield," he said. "I think the village is very welcoming not only to industry and commercial businesses, but to the residential base also. When you look at all the services that are provided here in the village, I can't image why you would look at any other place to live."
Nick Frank, who was raised in Middlefield, has been at the helm of The Frank Agency for nearly 30 years.
He has stayed in town and would encourage others to come for a simple reason -- the people.
"It's the type of people, the ethics, the morals, the community involvement that you see in Middlefield that makes me come here and makes me stay here, and makes me raise my kids here," Frank said.
But in terms of doing business, there are numerous factors that make the village attractive.
"I think Middlefield has a unique set of factors. One of them is we have a lot of good, clean water. We have a lot of workforce that is wiling to give you eight hours of work for eight hours of pay," he explained. "Many of our constituents, many of our people in this community are Amish, who are longtime good employees who love to continue to work for the same employer year after year."
Importantly, Frank and other civic and business leaders are committed to promoting Middlefield without aband-oning the rural nature and small-town feel of their community.
And there is no timetable for success.
"I don't think it's something that we want to time as much as something that we want to continue," Frank said. "I think we want it to go on for a long period of time and continue to attract businesses.
"It's not what happens in the short term, it's how it all works for us all in the long term," he added.
Terry Robinson, a Huntsburg Town-ship resident who affectionately is referred to as Mr. Middlefield, said he considers himself a "relatively newcomer to his area."
"I've lived here 17 years," said Robinson, who came to town to work for one of the plastics manufacturing companies and retired last year.
"The job found me, but in evaluating the area, it was apparent to me that this was going to be a great place to live and work," he said. "It has worked out very well. Middlefield is a very small town, has that kind of an atmosphere, where people get to know you, they like to shop local and it's an attractive place, I think, for anybody to come because of the schools, the village, the police, fire, all of the amenities that you find in a very good small town."
Robinson, who is past president and current secretary of East Geauga Kiwanis Club, said the values Middlefield offers are still important today.
"I think it's still pretty important to look at all of those values. Middlefield has some aspects of the large box stores, convenience as well as a lot of small town merchants who satisfy a lot of needs," he said. "I think people are looking for that kind of a feeling in a town where they can get to know people that they do business with."
Middlefield is a "caring community," Robinson said, explaining how the Kiwanis club filled a school bus recently with clothing, food and toys.
"It was real evidence of the concern that Middlefield residents have for taking care of their own," he said.