By Wayne Allen
On Thursday, economic development officials gathered at the OSU Endeavor Center to learn about a new marketing program being launched in Scioto, Jackson, Pike and Ross Counties.
To develop the program, the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio (JEDISO) hired consultants Ady Voltedge. Since beginning their work in January, a number of key economic assets were identified. A number of target industries were also identified, this along with other information is aimed to equip the region to better attract jobs and businesses.
“Many of you were here in January when we launched this program. This is the roll out, this is the next phase along the way,” said Chris Manegold, CEO of the Economic Development Alliance of Southern Ohio. “It’s not the end, it’s the end of the beginning, the end of the strategic planning and the beginning of the strategic doing.”
Manegold said the marketing program would not have been possible with the commitment of Flour-B&W Portsmouth and their Community Commitment Fund, which provided the funding to JEDISO to hire Ady Voltedge.
It was announced at the gathering that Flour-B&W Portsmouth will be providing JEDISO with a $149,000 grant to continue its work.
“That’s the money that’s going to be used right now for the strategic doing part of this plan,” Manegold said.
Manegold said the Ady Voltedge plan is not something that will sit on a shelf, it’s an action plan that identifies target industries and identification of the assets the region offers to attract these industries. Team from Ady Voltedge gave an overview of their work to those in attendance, on the team was Janet Ady, president and CEO of Ady Voltedge.
“This is really a story about the region and about putting our best foot forward to the outside world,” Ady said.
Ady said part of their efforts is aimed a retaining existing businesses.
“One of the things that’s really interesting here, as we start to think about what are strategy is going to be to excel investment and job growth in this region. We have not said, now we’re going to market to everywhere in the world. We’re also going to put in place the framework here to maintain current businesses,” Ady said. “The businesses that are here we want to be thankful for, but they are somebody else’s business recruitment program. We want to make sure we understand what’s going on with our current businesses and that we help them retain and expand.”
Ady said through their work they wanted to gain an understanding of the regions assets, so the region could be effectively marketed.
“Economic Development is about insuring your children and grandchildren have the opportunity to peruse a career or a life where they live,” Ady said. “It’s not enough to say we really want jobs and we will do what we can to get them. To a site selector that means run the other way, because clearly these people don’t have an idea of what their assets are and what would work for them and their company.”
She said through their work, they took the time identify the assets of the region.
As a part of the marketing and branding side of the project the team at Ady Voltedge has developed choosesouthernohio.com, and the brand ‘Strength in Numbers, Strength of Character’. The website contains information about the region and data on why it would be good for companies to relocate to this region. Some of the information included on the website includes information on the labor force, work ethic, some of the regions leading companies median wage data and population data.
According to the website Southern Ohio is strategically located for access to suppliers and markets, 110 million people live within 500 miles of the Southern Ohio region. The website also touts the regions large inventory of available sites and buildings.
“I think this means the days of us just wondering in the dark hoping a big major factory would land in Scioto County are over. We’re going to use data to try to go find somebody and bring them to Scioto County and not wait on them to come to us,” said Jason Kester, Executive Director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority.
Kester called this way of recruiting businesses to the area a more pro-active approach.
For more information on JEDISO and their ongoing work for the region visit choosesouthernohio.com.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.