SOPA activities receive recognition


By Wayne Allen

[email protected]

The Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) staff and efforts were recently recognized with awards by the Ohio Economic Development Association (ODEA).

It was announced in 2014 that Rural King would be locating a distribution center and store in Waverly. To get to that point a lot of work had to be done to make the project a reality.

“Project Helicopter was the Rural King Distribution Center in Waverly. Scioto, Ross and Jackson (Counties) provided ‘mutual aid’ assurance to help land the project,” said Jason Kester, executive director of SOPA.

When the project was first announced Rural King said they would hire 160 people. According to the company, the Pike County-facility plans to service 30 of the company’s eastern-most stores in the United States. The Pike County facility is the company’s second distribution center, with the first in Mattoon, Ill.

Kester said on Tuesday Rural King’s goal is to grow the local workforce to 300 people.

“Last time I talked to them (Rural King), they were doing good and happy with the workforce,” Kester said. “To be second out of a little over 500 projects last year is pretty good.”

The ODEA has selected Project Helicopter, Rural King Distribution Center, as a runner-up for the Best Project category. The ODEA also chose Kester as the runner-up for its Rookie of the Year category for new economic development directors.

“The key thing we’ve got to do on both of those is use these awards to market ourselves and show ourselves in the best positive light,” Kester said. “It’s not so much about winning the award; it’s about getting attention on our area.”

Kester believes this is the first time someone from southern Ohio has been the recipient of this award.

The awards will be formally given out at the OEDA Annual Excellence Awards program Oct. 20-23. For more information about the awards or OEDA visit

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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PDT File Photo Governor John Kasich addressing those in attendance at the Rural King announcement in 2014. File Photo Governor John Kasich addressing those in attendance at the Rural King announcement in 2014.

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