You wouldn't go to Holiday City for a vacation, but you would go there to work, as low electric rates have lured industry to this tiny town in the northwest corner of Ohio.
Ron Ernsberger and his partners broke ground on 20/20 Custom Molded Plastics Ltd. in 1999, after local business activists incorporated Holiday City as a village measuring less than two square miles, located right off an Ohio Turnpike exit. “Honestly, a big reason we're here is we wanted to be close to home,” said Ernsberger, who hails from nearby Liberty Center, Ohio. “But the biggest reason we're here is the electrical rates here are great.”
In Holiday City, electric costs about half the amount of surrounding communities, he said.
That's why Holiday City was carved out of Williams County: a backlash against high electric rates charged by Toledo Edison Co. Today Holiday City's official population is just 52 people, but several hundred people work in its businesses.
In the mid-1990s, when Chase Brass and Copper Co. balked at the high electric costs, the future was in doubt for that major employer of 250 people. Local business leaders got busy to create a city that would qualify for lower, wholesale electricity rates, through a municipal electric group. The “Holiday” name came because the co-owner of the local Holiday Inn, Bruce Kidston, led the effort. “They really got the ball rolling,” Ernsberger said.
State officials incorporated Holiday City in 1997, ending a six-year effort. Toledo Edison sued to block the creation of Holiday City, but ultimately, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Chase Brass stayed put. Local newspaper reports said the factory saved $1 million in electricity costs a year. Next came a brand-new industry, the 20/20 plastics factory. Ernsberger said local officials were extremely helpful. “When we came here this was just barren railroad-owned property that had been sitting here forever,” he said. “The people in this part of Ohio had just lost three big businesses, and they were hungry for industry. They bent over backwards to help us get going.”
Ernsberger looked out the window at the road leading to 20/20. “This was a stone road in front of the plant. You know, just an access road. They brought the power, they brought the water, the phone, the gas, paved the road. We brought the rail spur in.
“The people here were super to work with. And honestly, the view from the turnpike means a lot,” he said.
Holiday City annexed land on the other side of the turnpike. Two years ago, Menards Inc., the home improvement retailer, built a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center on the site.
And there are some touristy things to do in Williams County. In Bryan, Ohio, the county seat, they give tours at Spangler Candy Co., the family-owned maker of Dum-Dum lollipops and Circus Peanuts.