SOPA continues to take message internationally


Officials with the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) are continuing to take the message of southern Ohio internationally.

Starting on Saturday, Jason Kester Executive Director of SOPA will be in San Diego, California attending the World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment.

As a part of the forum, participants will travel to Mexico to tour factories and areas of industrial development.

“Some of the major projects that have looked at our area have been foreign companies, which could result in foreign direct investment. The Foreign Direct Investment World Forum is San Diego,” Kester said.

He said over the course of the forum, there will be networking opportunities as well as formal classroom settings for continuing education.

“Part of the trip includes, going into Mexico and looking at how they are doing things over there. We’re going to check out an industrial park in Mexico. We’re also going to talk with some officials while were there to get a feel for how they do things,” Kester said.

SOPA is attending the forum as a part of the JEDISO (Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio) marketing efforts.

He said the World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment is not held at the same place every year.

This year the event is in San Diego and last year it was in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

“San Diego is a little bit easier to get to than Dubai,” Kester said.

When asked about his expectations for the forum Kester said, “Mainly, just to keep learning. I want to keep learning about what’s going on, keep learning about foreign direct investment, continue to make connections and continue to put our names out there.”

Later this month SOPA Asset Manager Adam Phillips will travel to Hannover, Germany on an international trade mission in attending Hannover Messe.

The United States Department of Commerce calls Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade fair for industrial technology. The Department of Commerce also refers to the event as an unprecedented opportunity to showcase goods, services and investment opportunities.

The event is anticipated to have 200,000 attendees from more than 70 countries.

SOPA Executive Director Jason Kester said the contingent attending the event from the United States include President Barack Obama the first sitting U.S. President to ever participate in the Hannover Messe show.

“It’s a huge opportunity for our region to market our assets. We’re attending on behalf of JEDISO (Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio) and we’ve also partnered with the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC). The trade mission is being sponsored by AEP Economic Development that provided JEDISO a grant to attend the event. Our group is led by SEDC,” Kester said. “Our hope is to continue to grow and establish relationships with site selectors and industry leaders. It’s all part of the approach we (SOPA) adopted last year to be proactive and go out and attract companies instead of waiting on companies to find us.”

While Phillips is in Hannover, a delegation from southern Ohio including Kester; Joseph Pratt, Executive Director of Main Street Portsmouth; Barry Witherspoon, Principal, New Urban Concepts; and Kirk Donges, V.P., Tanner Stone Holsinger & Donges (TSHD) Architects, will be presenting at the America’s Best Communities Summit in Durham, North Carolina.

In January, it was announced the area advanced in the America’s Best Communities Competition.

The Southern Ohio Port Authority, Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Portsmouth teamed up for this competition.

When the competition was first announced there were roughly 400 communities throughout the United States involved. That pool of communities was narrowed to 50 and then it was narrowed to 15 communities.

The Portsmouth delegation will present at the Summit on Portsmouth’s Revitalization Plan.

The plan provides an innovative approach to revitalize the Portsmouth community by utilizing its most valuable asset, the Ohio River.

Its goal is to improve commercial and community access to the Portsmouth riverfront by making the port a premier regional destination for industrial development, small business development and riverfront recreation.

According to information about the competition, at the end of the summit, eight communities will be named finalists and awarded $100,000 to bring their plans to life.

They will have one year to implement their strategies, and the top three communities that make the largest impact and show the greatest potential for achieving sustainable revitalization will be selected as the grand prize winners.

The top community will receive $3 million, with second place earning $2 million and $1 million for third.

For more information about the programs and activities of SOPA, visit or find them on Facebook.

By Wayne Allen

[email protected]

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

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