Putnam County economic developments highlighted

OTTAWA — Recent private sector achievements were touted Thursday as representatives of local businesses and governments gathered for the Putnam County Community Improvement Corporation’s annual State of the Vision meeting.

Director Amy Sealts reported figures for projects that the Putnam County CIC had a role in facilitating over the past year, which resulted in $83.9 million in capital investments, 44 new jobs and 1,198 retained jobs.

“We have businesses reach out to us every single day, every single week, every month, and they are asking for support in one way or another,” Sealts said. The CIC supports business growth in the county by aiding with site selection, working with villages on infrastructure and downtown revitalization, connecting business owners with state incentives and more.

Several businesses old and new highlighted their recent projects and testified to the role of the CIC in their successes.

Michelle Rabe, founder of the newly opened Woman of War Smokehouse in Ottoville, said that the CIC helped secure the site of her new 4,800 square foot facility located on Progressive Drive. Her business specializes in smoked fish that is sold wholesale to other vendors, and she hopes to continue to ramp up production over the coming months.

“I want to be a leader, to show myself and others in the community, my family, my kids that you can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it,” Rabe said. She added that the Village of Ottoville’s cooperation and assistance in constructing the necessary infrastructure made opening the business a smooth process.

Kurt Kroplin, Plant Leader of the Whirlpool facility in Ottawa, provided updates on the extensive $65 million expansion project that he said will turn the plant into the “premium refrigeration factory in North America.” The facility will be expanded by 166,000 square feet to accommodate the production of Whirlpool’s high-end refrigeration products, bringing at least 100 new jobs to the Ottawa community.

Construction for the project broke ground in April in a ceremony attended by Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman Bob Latta, demonstrating the scope of the economic impact of the expansion to the local community and the broader region.

“It’s a huge factory to run. It’s a huge undertaking,” Kroplin said. “The community truly supports us in many ways, and the PCCIC is one of the biggest supporters.”

Tom “Duffer” Rosenbauer was presented with a Legacy Award for his work over the past decades as a prominent member of the Ottawa community. Amy Sealts said his work has been “instrumental … really making things happen in the community.”

Among numerous other involvements, Rosenbauer is serving his second term on the Ottawa Village Council and has been a member of the Ottawa-Glandorf Rotary Club for 15 years, which has included the creation of the Little Nashville festival in Downtown Ottawa. Rosenbauer said he appreciates receiving the recognition from members of his community.

“It just feels like people are starting to realize what I really do,” Rosenbauer said, adding that Putnam County is a special place to call home and do business. “I was born and raised here, everybody knows everybody, and everybody helps you get things done.”