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Construction started coming back in Portage County in 2012 after steep declines caused by the Great Recession.
The Portage County Building Department reported the valuation of all projects permitted by the county has 14 times higher last year than in 2011. The valuation of all projects last year was $85.9 million compared to $6 million in 2011.
Randall E. Roberts, department director, said one project, the Newell-Rubbermaid distribution center opening this month in Brimfield, accounted for about a quarter of all fees brought in last year.
But, Roberts said, "everything was up" last year, with activity rising nearly across the board, from new homes to commercial and agricultural construction.
The department serves all the county except for the cities of Aurora, Kent, Ravenna and Streetsboro, which have their own building departments.
Permits for single family homes increased from 71 in 2011 to 102 last year. The valuation of homes built last year totaled $907,237 compared to $20.67 million.
Commercial building permits rose of 107 in 2011 to 132 last year with valuation rising from $4.47 million in 2011 to $65.05 million last year.
Roberts said residential construction was active across the county, but more homes went up in Brimfield as developments that were already open there continued to build out.
So far this century, housing construction in Portage County peaked in 2005 when 804 new homes were built. That dropped to 734 in 2006.
Numbers for the Portage, Summit, Medina region are expected to be up about 22 percent, said Carmine Torio, executive vice president of the Homebuilders Association serving Portage and Summit Counties.
That's not a lot -- only about 700 to 800 permits among the three counties, he said.
"Really, it's the first time since 2005 we've had double-digit increases," Torio said.
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This is great news, but let's not get too overjoyed. The national Economy may well be coming back from being almost dead, barely surviving. But it's not even close to what it was in pre-2006. It's still hurting, but signs are good for the future. That is unless we go into another recession. A double dip recession is all too possible if our taxes go up and banks are not able to lend money in reasonable ways. We need to be patient, while moving forward carefully.