Hino expansion could be boon for Wood County schools

PARKERSBURG — A new Hino manufacturing plant planned for Parkersburg could give Wood County Schools a significant boost in funding.

In a press conference Wednesday, Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. officials announced setting up a truck assembly plant at the old Coldwater Creek distribution center in Parkersburg, a $100 million project that will create 250 jobs by 2020.

Officials have said they do not plan to reduce the 300 jobs at the Williamstown Hino plant, but have not ruled out moving manufacturing to the new location.

The announcement came after months of speculation by local officials who have been trying to find a new occupant for the nearly 1 million-square-foot facility located in the Pettyville area and within Parkersburg’s city limits. It was owned by Wood County Economic Development.

Superintendent John Flint said Wood County Schools officials were thrilled to hear the announcement.

“It’s like Christmas,” he said. “Any time you have an increase in the tax base, especially with those new jobs, you’ll hopefully see an increase in enrollment, which in turn increases state funding.

“We’re excited. It’s great not only for the school system, but for everyone in Wood County.”

Wood County Assessor David Nohe said the Coldwater Creek facility was last assessed at $42 million.

“We’ve done some initial estimates, but we really want to tour the building and look at what shape it is in,” he said. “We really need to look at the condition of the building to generate a fair appraisal.”

Even if the appraisal remains unchanged, Nohe said it would generate significant tax revenue for Wood County Schools.

“For the school system, you’re looking at about $400,000-$450,000 annually to the Board of Education,” he said. “It would be quite a wonderful boost to the school system and the county.”

Nohe said that revenue wouldn’t be realized by Wood County Schools until 2019 at the earliest, and that does not take into account the promised $100 million in planned renovations.

“This is a very early and conservative estimate,” he said. “We still have a lot of questions that need answered.”

Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling, who oversees facilities and transportation for the school system, said Coldwater Creek sits within the Mineral Wells Elementary Attendance zone.

Flint said he hopes renovation of the plant will lead to more housing in that area of the county, meaning more families and more students in area schools.

“Many of the people attracted by those job opportunities will be young people with young families, school-age children,” Flint said. “The center of jobs might be there, but I think we’ll see a ripple effect through the county, so multiple schools might see their numbers increase as more people come into the area.”

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