Orange Township’s second annual Business Appreciation Day was a success Tuesday morning with about 25 people in attendance from township businesses, said Amanda Sheterom, spokesperson.
During the event participants formed small groups to discuss issues their businesses face. Finding minimum wage workers was one that emerged.
“There’s no transportation if your car breaks down,” said Holly Quaine, Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce president. “That demographic, the service sector, really doesn’t have a second choice of transportation.”
Quaine offered ideas of mall store managers coordinating shifts so that workers could ride share. She also brought up public transportation by connecting the DATA and COTA bus lines so workers in Columbus could get to jobs in Delaware County.
Quaine said, if minimum wage workers wanted to move to Delaware County they wouldn’t be able to find affordable housing. “The apartments, the Reserve at Quail Pass, they’re $1,200 per month,” she said. “If you’re making $15 per hour, that’s an assistant manager’s wage, there’s no way you can afford that. I’m not even sure they would take home enough to buy groceries.”
“Now you’re talking about building affordable housing for the kinds of jobs that need to be filled,” Quaine said. “Some developer will need to step up and provide something that fits the aesthetics of the area and is affordable for the workers we really need.”
Orange Township Trustee Debbie Taranto owns Taranto’s Pizzeria in Lewis Center.
She said some of her employees come from Columbus. “I have several employees who come here from Columbus because we pay better here in Orange Township,” she said. “They take the COTA bus. It stops before you hit Orange Township and they have to walk half a mile to work.”
Taranto said the area is limited in multi-family housing and there isn’t really any good public transportation for this type of worker in the county. “We want the higher paying jobs, but we also need a working class type group to come in and be able to service all those families and people who work here,” she said.
“People still need to go to Giant Eagle, McDonald’s and buy pizza on Friday night. We need workers to be able to handle that. I just heard that Kohl’s is trying to hire 80 people before the Christmas session. Where are they going to find 80 seasonal employees in Orange Township?”
The event was co-sponsored by Orange Township’s Advisory Development Board and Delaware County Economic Development.
“Orange township was the first one to come up with the idea,” said Jenna Jackson, Delaware County economic development coordinator. “We’re going to do one in Powell and Liberty Township as well.”