NORTHWEST OHIO - Putnam County is one of five counties in Northwest Ohio to be featured in a tour for site consultants in hopes to bring in new business to the region.

Early this month, the Regional Growth Partnership or RGP, a private nonprofit development corporation that seeks economic growth opportunities for Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, hosted a a group of prominent site consultants to promote the region as a top location for business investment. The three-day event saw 10 site consultants from across the county to learn more about the area's assets.

Site consultants are land surveyors that specialize in providing clients suggestions on locations for site development and assess the needs of company. They play a large part in where a business will expand or build. Site consultants can work for a large variety of companies such as hotels, apartments, residential subdivisions, commercial parks, retirement complexes, churches, restaurants, shopping centers, industrial buildings, warehouses, trucking facilities and other commercial/ industrial developments.

The tour, known in the industry as a "FAM (familiarization) Tour," marked the first time that ten consultants came to the region at the same time.

"Site consultants are key targets because they are often engaged by companies looking to expand operations," said Dean Monske, president and CEO of the RGP. "It is critical that the RGP identify and build relationships with these decision makers."

Consultants heard from multiple executives of the region's largest companies who have already invested in Northwest Ohio.

Another session focused on the region's work ethic, with testimonials presented by executives at companies across Northwest Ohio. In addition, representatives from JobsOhio discussed the state of Ohio's unique approach to economic development. JobsOhio, the replacement for the Ohio Department of Development, is Gov. John Kasich's privatized and at times controversial development agency.

Despite JobsOhio's controversy in regards receiving large sums of tax money, RGP showcased the programs success to the consultants.

"It [JobsOhio] was designed to communicate and work better with businesses, primarily by acting as a business itself," said John Gibney in a RGP press release. "The RGP serves as Northwest Ohio's network partner for JobsOhio."

Consultants also had the privilege to take a helicopter tour over select Northwest Ohio Greenfield "Megasites" in counties including Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Putnam and Van Wert.

"This was a great opportunity for Northwest Ohio to make a strong, face-to-face sales pitch to key decision makers who took the time to visit our backyard," said Gary Thompson, vice president of the RGP and director of the JobsOhio Northwest Ohio Region. "Nothing like this has ever been done in Northwest Ohio and we believe it was a great success."

Initial feedback from consultants supported those thoughts. In describing the importance for communities in training their future workforce, site consultant Dean Barber made note of the numerous community colleges linked closely to industry in Northwest Ohio.

"Most of the liaisons and trainers at these community colleges have industry backgrounds and understand the language of manufacturing. They are not faculty lounge types with no real-world experience," said Barber, who made the trip from Plano, Texas, where he serves as president and CEO of Barber Business Advisors, a site selection and economic development firm.