2023 Forecast Breakfast
Crawford Partnership President & CEO David Zak delivered these comments at the Business & Industry Forecast Breakfast hosted by the Bucyrus Area and Galion-Crestline Area Chambers of Commerce on February 22, 2023.
Good morning, everyone.
I am here today to talk about the economy of Crawford County. Crawford County, with 42,000 residents, ranks #293 out of 543 micropolitans in the US for population – right in the middle of the pack. However, this small county has a lot of potential in terms of its economy.
First, let me share some of my concerns. The labor force in Crawford County is shrinking, and the county has an aging population. Moreover, the number of manufacturing businesses in the county has decreased by almost 20% in the last decade, which is concerning. We have also seen two major plant closures in the last five years resulting in job losses.
Although these concerns are legitimate, the good news is that are economy is fundamentally strong and growing.
A $2.5 billion economy
Crawford County has a strong economy with 1400 business establishments generating $2.5 billion in annual revenue. If it were a company, it would make the Fortune 1000 list, and if it were a country, its economy would surpass that of 20 other countries. The County also excels in fostering small businesses, with more than one third (35%) of its workforce employed by businesses with less than 50 employees, which is significantly higher than the state’s 25% figure.
Strong industrial sectors
Crawford County has a location quotient of 2.0 for manufacturing, which indicates the county’s significant strength in the manufacturing sector, with particular strengths in wood products, fabricated metals, machinery manufacturing, and transportation equipment. Healthcare has also grown to be just as strong as manufacturing, with one out of five people employed in the sector. We also continue to be the fourth strongest county in the state for agriculture.
The county’s unemployment rate has been cut by a percentage point. The annual average in 2021 was 5.8%, in 2022 it was 5.0%, and in the most recent data (in December 2022), it had dropped to 4.4%. This is the third biggest cut among the 8 counties in our immediate vicinity, but it lags behind the State and the nation. The unemployment rate of Crawford County is the highest in the region, and this should be a matter of concern for us.
Rising population & economic development
Despite these issues, the population of Crawford County has increased by 1.2% from 2019 to 2021, which is higher than the State’s growth in the same time period. Also, Crawford County registered five major economic development projects in 2022 for Site Selection magazine’s national database, which is the most in more than a decade.
In conclusion, Crawford County has a lot of potential in terms of its economy. The county has strong manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture and excels in fostering small businesses. However, we need to address the declining manufacturing sector, shrinking labor force, and aging population. We must also continue to work towards creating and filling more job opportunities and supporting our existing businesses. I’m confident we can work together towards strengthening Crawford County as an economic powerhouse. Thank you.