Opportunities Can Be Nearby

Economic development officials tend to be on the lookout for new businesses. Opportunities in headline-making industries such as energy and flashy high-tech ventures are sought.

Anyone with such a proposal gets the royal treatment, including tax breaks.

But when an existing business asks for incentives, too often there is not as much interest shown. And when the product or service is not revolutionary, even less attention can be paid.

Really good local and state economic development officials know that is a terrible mistake. Often, an area pays for it by losing a business that has been there for decades, as its owners choose to go somewhere else where a welcoming hand has been extended.

With all that in mind, a story on page one of yesterday’s newspaper should be especially gratifying to local residents. It reported ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the expanded TeamSledd facility in Elm Grove.

The company, once known as SleddCo, has been in Wheeling since 1937. But during recent years it has expanded dramatically, to the point it has opened a 200,000 square-foot operation in Elm Grove.

TeamSledd is a leading distributor of products to convenience stores. The firm has benefited from smart management and the proliferation of convenience stores.

As Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie noted Tuesday, TeamSledd “could have moved to Ohio or out of the city.” But company officials stayed here, in part because local officials made them feel wanted. In addition, the state provided loans to help finance the new facility.

That was smart, and it ought to serve as a model for how other local businesses are treated.

How smart? Consider this: TeamSledd had 88 employees not very long ago. Now it has 225. That is 137 new jobs that were, in effect, right under our noses. Good for local and state officials for ensuring they stayed in Wheeling – and thanks to TeamSledd officials for sticking with their home town.