Phil Buell: Greater Lima Region should address housing shortage


By Phil Buell - Guest Columnist

The Greater Lima Region needs 22,000 additional workers by 2025. Regional economic development groups, employers, schools, colleges, universities, and Ohio Means Jobs continuously focus on creating environments connecting the workforce to the employer. There has been great success thus far. However, we have additional challenges to overcome in the future with the anticipated worker shortage in the region.

The Greater Lima Region is fortunate to have an abundance of employment opportunities. Our workforce makes the Lima region an attractive location for employers. Regional manufacturing plants such as Procter & Gamble, Nutrien, Ford, Crown Equipment, KMI, International Paper, Eaton-Aeroquip and General Dynamics provide regional employment opportunities. New businesses such as Pratt Industries in Wapakoneta and HydroFresh in Delphos are starting production facilities providing employment opportunities as well. The Greater Lima Region’s largest employers, Mercy Health-St. Rita’s and Lima Memorial Health System routinely attract high-quality physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, therapists and other support staff to our community.

Many small businesses support the Greater Lima Region economic system and create additional employment opportunities in transportation, retail, construction, professional, finance and other services. Large and small employer bases and an exceptional workforce are the primary factors for the Greater Lima Region’s success.

Although there are significant opportunities, attracting new workers to the region is challenging. A primary obstacle facing the Greater Lima Region is housing availability. Currently, there is a housing shortage due to an aging inventory and limited supply of homes. People search endlessly for homes that are suitable, meet their needs and are modernized. Homes or apartments that meet these criteria are in high demand as the list of buyers outweighs the current available options.

The Greater Lima Region is starting to gain additional housing options. The populations of Bluffton, Anna, Kalida, Findlay and Glandorf are expanding with new residential home projects over the past few years. Walter Development plans to begin construction of The Metro Center Upscale Lofts in downtown Lima in the coming months. The luxury apartments at Shawnee Lakes on Allentown Road are nearing completion. The region has housing options in urban, suburban and rural settings that will satisfy any buyer’s needs. However, more homes are desperately needed. A primary goal of the Greater Lima Region’s strategic plan is the assurance that the current and future workforce has access to quality housing options.

Although new housing projects are in development, there is still a significant housing shortage. The market is changing as baby boomers retire. Many desire to downsize their homes and seek options that require minimal maintenance. Although the demand is significant, their options are few. The millennials are creating their own market dynamics. Many are moving back in with their parents after college or delay homeownership for various reasons. They are waiting later in life before committing to a permanent home. They search for quality housing that defines their generation, preferring urban settings and access to technology. Growing families are searching for new homes that offer additional space. In today’s real estate market, finding the perfect home within a price that is affordable is often quite challenging. Many times, existing homes that need significant improvements prevent potential homeowners from purchasing. All of these issues are real. Fortunately, these challenges may create opportunities.

How do we create an environment for additional quality housing options to flourish within our region? What are the barriers for constructing new homes or housing projects? Do potential homeowners or builders have adequate access to capital? Is the cost to build new constructions too excessive? Why does the cost to build a new home exceed the home’s final market value? Are the regulatory and local governmental authorities providing the right incentives to promote a healthy housing market? The Greater Lima Region Board of Directors are asking questions such as these. As we ask these questions, we hope to identify and incorporate solutions to enhance the housing options within the region.

The Greater Lima Region is a great place to live. There are many employment opportunities in many different sectors. The Greater Lima Region is affordable with easy accessibility to several major metropolitan areas. The urban and rural landscape makes this a great area to raise children. The region is home to outstanding hospitals, universities and summer collegiate league baseball clubs. Several of the schools within this region are ranked in the top 150 schools in the state of Ohio.

Growing our housing market to accommodate an additional 22,000 workers by 2025 will be no easy task. However, by understanding the employment challenges and creating a healthy housing market, attractive housing options can become reality for everyone instead of just a dream.

By Phil Buell

Guest Columnist

Phil Buell is president and CEO of Superior Credit Union. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.

Phil Buell is president and CEO of Superior Credit Union. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.

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