By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
According to its president, Southern Ohio Growth Partnership is basically defunct. SOGP President/Treasurer Mike Gampp said Monday the time for SOGP as a participant in the promotional aspect of the community has passed.
“I believe you are going to see SOGP fade away. It’s not going to exist anymore,” Gampp said. “As time goes on, one of the great conversations we’ve had is, coming back together — how do we market this community. I think we will still need to do that. It’s important, but SOGP is not the way to do it.”
SOGP Board of Directors removed Bob Huff as president and CEO after they said they discovered restricted loan funds were improperly used to cover SOGP operating expenses. At the time, Board Treasurer Mike Gampp said the board was trying to find a way to recover from the problems caused by the improper use of those funds.
Gampp said when the Board discovered the funds had been improperly allocated, members immediately contacted the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), engaged an independent auditor, and assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of SOGP.
Last week, USDA spokeswoman Heather Hartley said no decision has been made as to what the USDA will do to try to solve the problem.
Gampp said when he first discovered the discrepancy, he was concerned about the future of the Chamber of Commerce and Portsmouth Murals Inc. as occupants of the Welcome Center.
‘I didn’t want to see, because of one issue with SOGP, the entire Chamber of Commerce go dark, which is what could have happened,” Gampp said. But he said, with the purchase by Community Action, the Chamber, Portsmouth Murals and the building itself are all now secure
“SOGP’s time has probably come and gone,” Gampp said Monday during an announcement that Community Action of Scioto County is purchasing from SOGP the Welcome Center. ‘We’ll move on to something else and find a new solution.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.