Van Wert Looks To Turn Mega Site Into Economic Development Prize

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 25, 2013 Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 5:57 PM EDT

VAN WERT, Ohio (21 Alive) --- Hoping a giant piece of land will help a northwest Ohio city hit the jackpot.

Van Wert officials believe they are sitting on an economic development "diamond in the rough".

The mega site, as it has been labeled, is billed as having a world of potential.

Right now it's an empty field.

But there are signs of progress in turning it into something better.

More than 1,500 acres was set aside several years ago to attract an auto plant or some other big manufacturing operation.

A squabble with the state of Ohio over a gas line stalled the project.

Now that is settled, and city officials are stepping up efforts to market the property to companies.

A billboard off U.S. 30 is now in place, broadcasting the available land.

A rail spur connecting the mega site to train track running through the heart of Van Wert should be finished by November first.

Businesses needing only a few hundred acres won't be ignored, but city officials are dreaming bigger.

" Are we going to be a little particular as to what we utilize the land for, yes we will. We're interested in something that's going to be a growth factor for Van Wert, not only for the community itself, but wage wise," said Van Wert Mayor Don Farmer.

It’s fine to dream big, but it’s a strategy that could cost the community some attractive, smaller companies.

Van Wert was in the running for a big Honda plant about six years ago, which eventually went to Greensburg Indiana.

When you're vying to land a gem like that, the competition is fierce.

But Van Wert officials say having a huge piece of land already shovel ready sets them apart.

They are marketing the site not only in North America, but internationally, trusting one day they will be celebrating a tremendous economic development victory.

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