The Site Selector’s Guide to Ottawa County, Ohio

Posted on: March 21, 2019

With a strong, talented workforce, available sites, various incentives, and key strengths in transportation and logistics, Ottawa County – located on the shores of Lake Erie – is one of Ohio’s premier locations to build or expand a business.   

Learn more about what Ottawa County has to offer in our site selector’s guide to Ottawa County.


1) Ideal Access to All Markets

Due to Ottawa County’s strategic location, our region has several important assets, making it a transportation hub your clients could benefit from: 

  • Air: Erie-Ottawa International Airport provides easy access to domestic and international flights, including an onsite U.S. Customs & Border Protection facility and land available for development.
  • Rail: Access fast and efficient railroad service off of a Norfolk Southern mainline in from a strategic location from which businesses produce, assemble, and distribute their finished goods.
  • Road: 10 highways run through Ottawa County, connecting our area with major cities like Cleveland and Detroit accessible within a one-hour drive.
  • Water: Access 323 square miles of navigable waterways – including Lake Erie, an ideal location for industrial development looking to take advantage of freshwater resources.


2) Business-Friendly Tax Climate

Ohio has the lowest taxes in the Midwest, making Ottawa County an extremely profit-friendly business climate for companies that locate here:

  • Ohio ranks fifth in the nation for cost of doing business
  • No tax on investments in machinery and equipment
  • No tax on products sold to customers outside Ohio
  • No tax on inventory or corporate income
  • First $1 million in gross receipts are tax-free
  • Flat tax on sales between $150,000 – $1 million
  • Recent tax reform reduced tax burden by up to 63%


3) Numerous Advantages for New & Existing Businesses

Ottawa County offers several advantages to new and existing businesses from any industry. Consider the following facts:

  • Low sales tax rate
  • Low municipal income tax rates
  • Affordable wages: $53,599 median household income
  • Below average cost of living: $135,800 median housing price


4) Prime Location for Businesses in Manufacturing, Logistics, Healthcare & More

For a county of its size, Ottawa County houses several noteworthy companies which serve as industry leaders both within the county and throughout the region – and, in some cases, across the country:

Materion Brush, Inc.

  • Location: Elmore, Ohio
  • Employees: 640
  • Description: Leading supplier of high-performance engineered materials that today’s leading-edge manufacturers demand.
Magruder Hospital

Magruder Hospital

  • Location: Port Clinton, Ohio
  • Employees: 414
  • Description: Critical access hospital that is technologically advanced and provides quality and compassionate medical care and treatment.
Northern Manufacturing

Northern Manufacturing

  • Location: Oak Harbor, Ohio
  • Employees: 150
  • Description: Sheet metal fabrication company specializing in stainless steel fabrications and custom molds.
Fenner Dunlop

Fenner Dunlop

  • Location: Port Clinton, Ohio
  • Employees: 50
  • Description: Largest manufacturer of conveyor belting for mining and industrial applications.
US Gypsum Company

United States Gypsum Company

  • Location: Gypsum, Ohio
  • Employees: 225
  • Description: Largest manufacturer of gypsum-based building products for the construction and remodeling industries in the U.S.

These are just some of many organizations who are proud to call Ottawa County home.


5) Noteworthy Sites & Buildings Available for Development

Another strength Ottawa County has to offer are our various sites and buildings which are available for development. Three highlighted sites include:

Building 460

  • 757,056 SF available
  • Sale price: $7,400,000
  • 2 onsite wind turbines & 2 permitted freshwater intakes
  • Lease available for partial or all available space

Clearwater Preserve 

  • 46.5 acres available
  • Sale price: $16.5M
  • PUD zoning, with direct water access to Sandusky Bay waterway

Northern Manufacturing

  • 74,860 SF building
  • Sale price: $1.25M
  • Heavy Industrial (HI) & General Business (GB)

Check out our full lists of sites and buildings here!


6) Project Financing Opportunities, Grants, Tax Credits & Real Property Incentives

Whether your clients are looking to build a new facility, purchase an available property, or expand their already existing business, Ottawa County offers a wealth of resources to finance their projects.

Project Financing

Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) has access to several different financing tools which provide creative structures, competitive rates and terms, and compatibility with private lender programs:

  • Community Development Block Grant: Gap financing; fixed rates; terms up to 10 years. Learn more.
  • OCIC Revolving Loan Fund Program: Gap financing & down-payment assistance; fixed rates; 3-5 year term. Learn more.
  • SBA 504 Loan Program: 40% gap financing, backed by Small Business Administration; fixed rates. Learn more.
  • Ohio Regional 166 Loan Program: Finances fixed assets (land, building, machinery, and equipment); 40% gap financing. Learn more.

Grants & Tax Credits

Ottawa County has the most sought-after incentives for both new and expanding businesses:

  • Economic Development Grant: The JobsOhio Economic Development Grant was created to promote economic development, business expansion, and job creation by providing funding for eligible projects in the State of Ohio.
  • The Job Creation Tax Credit: A refundable tax credit to companies generally creating at least 10 new jobs (within three years) with a minimum annual payroll of $660,000 that pay at least 150 percent of the federal minimum wage. 
  • Research and Development (R&D) Investment Tax Credit: Provides a non-refundable tax credit up to seven percent for qualified research and development expenses.
  • The JobsOhio Revitalization Program: This program is focused on helping revitalize sites in preparation for end users that support future job creation opportunities for Ohioans. 
  • Workforce Grant: The JobsOhio Workforce Grant was created to promote economic development, business expansion, and job creation by providing funding for the improvement of worker skills and abilities in the State of Ohio. 

Real Property Incentives

In addition to project financing tools and incentives like the ones we’ve already mentioned, Ottawa County also provides real estate incentives including:

  • Enterprise Zone: Communities in Ohio may establish an Enterprise Zone that provides local officials with the ability to negotiate a tax incentive agreement with a prospective company.
  • Community Reinvestment Areas (CRA): CRAs are areas of land in which property owners can receive tax incentives for investing in real property improvements. The CRA Program is a direct incentive tax exemption program benefiting property owners who renovate existing or construct new buildings.


7) A Strong Labor Force

Ottawa County also prides itself on its strong labor force:

Local employers, employees, and job seekers can also take advantage of Ottawa County’s workforce training assistance programs offered by numerous local, regional, and state entities:

  • On-the-Job (OJT) Training: A federally funded program that helps employers hire and train individuals for long-term employment.
  • Incumbent Worker Training: Will reimburse employers for up to 50 percent of the eligible employee training costs, up to $4,000 per employee, after the employer pays the full cost of the training, and the employee successfully completes the training. 
  • Employment Hiring Coordination: OCIC works directly with any employer to identify hiring needs, skills/qualifications necessary, and works with the employer to develop a strategy around outreach, hiring, and pre-employment testing for all candidates for jobs.
  • Rapid Response Coordination: This proactive and flexible program provides layoff aversion services to employers, funds special projects or initiatives, and helps workers affected by mass layoffs transition to reemployment. Employers and employees who are facing a potential or current mass layoff or facility closure are eligible for Rapid Response services.

In addition to these programs, OCIC and other community members are heavily invested in preparing our youth for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Established in 2014, the mission of the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council (BAC) is to engage the business and education communities to understand and support the educational and employment needs within Ottawa County.


8) Award-Winning Region

A last advantage Ottawa County offers site selectors is our strategic location. We are proud to be located in a region, state, and metropolitan area that have consistently won Governor’s Cup Awards from Site Selection magazine.

In 2017 and 2018, for example, Ohio ranked as #2 in the top states by number of projects and as #3 in the top states by projects per capita. Ohio also led the charge as the #1 ranked state in the top states by most top micropolitan areas.

And for its second consecutive year, Toledo was ranked as #3 in the nation among mid-sized cities for economic development.



Offering ideal access to all major markets, a business-friendly tax climate, noteworthy sites and buildings available for development, and a strong labor force, Ottawa County is the ideal region for new businesses and business expansion.

Are you interested in learning more about Ottawa County, our available sites, or any of our other assets? Give us a call today at (419) 898-6242!