BY ED GEBERT
Business Journal Writer
PAULDING — In northwest Ohio, Paulding county boasts a population of 19,254 on just over 416 square miles. That averages 47.1 persons per square mile. Of that land, 87.8 percent is used as cropland with another 7.6 percent in forest. Much of the land was once a part of the Great Black Swamp which covered most of northwestern Ohio nearly two centuries ago.
The county seat is Paulding, with a population of 3,544. Also within the county is the Village of Antwerp, with a population 1,712, and the Village of Payne with 1,172.Smaller communities include Briceton, Latty, Melrose, Haviland, Oakwood, Scott, Broughton, Cecil, and Grover Hill.
The working population of Paulding County is willing to drive a distance to work. The mean driving time to work is 23 minutes. The total civilian work force is around 9.500 with 500 unemployed for a unemployment rate of 5.2 percent as of July 2014.
There were 346 active businesses in Paulding County, including 27 business starts to last year. Major employers in the county include Alex Products, Cooper Farms, H.E. Orr Co., LaFarge, Paulding County Hospital, Paudling Exempted Village Schools, Spartech Corp., Tem-Pace/Paragon Tempered Glass, and Wayne Trace Local Schools. The state lists 105 good-producing establishments in the county with an average of 1,859 employees at an average wage of $727 per week. Serving-providing industries number 214 with employment averaging 1,762 workers at an average wage of $491 per week.
Paulding County is also home to two industrial wind farms. Timber Road Wind Farm, owned by EDP Renewables, contains 55 wind turbines which can produce a total of 99 megawatts. The Blue Creek Wind Farm, owned by Iberdrola Renewables, is split between Paulding County and Van Wert County with 175 total wind turbines producing up to 350 megawatts of power. In addition, a few private firms have erected wind turbines to cut overall power costs.
Traditional farming is big business in Paulding County. Around 680 farms take about 22,878 acres with total cash receipts at $187.1 million, the majority of those receipts (nearly $1.03 million) comes from raising crops. Another $84.2 million is collected for lifestock and other ag products.
Paulding County was the first county in the United States to receive funding from Andrew Carnegie to build a library. Carnegie also matched funds to purchase a pipe organ in the Paulding Methodist Church. The county has four buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places: The Paulding County Carnegie Library, the Paulding County Courthouse, the depot on the Norfolk and Western Railway in Antwerp, and a round barn on Emerald Township Rd. 168 northest of Paulding.
School districts in Paulding County are Paulding Exempted Village Schools, Wayne Trace Local Schools, and Antwerp Local Schools. A career-tech center, Vantage Career Center also educates high school juniors and seniors and offers adult education courses as well.
Throughout the county there are 10 public school buildings in use with a total enrollment of 3,126 students and approximately 210 (full-time equivalent) teachers. There is one major main library plus three library branches. Nearly 88 percent of all county residents age 25 and older have a high school diploma. Another 12.5 percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. There are 1,523 persons in the county who are U.S. veterans.
Housing is mostly stable in Paulding County. The homeownership rate is near 80 percent, compared to just 68 percent across Ohio. Of the nearly 8,700 housing units in the county, only 7.7 percent are in multi-unit structures. Almost 90 percent of residents have lived in the same house for one year or more.The median value of all housing units is $92,100. The median household income is slightly over $44,000 annually, and 14 percent of the people live below the poverty line.