First, let me apologize for my absence in writing over the last few months. First I had extensive eye surgery making reading and writing difficult. Then the pace of activity in the commissioner’s office has been fast and furious and there is a lot of progress being made on many fronts. All three commissioners, Mike Crabtree, Doug Coleman and I have been working hard to improve Scioto County and the region. Working together with other elected office holders, state, city, village and township officials as well as many other organizations and people, progress is steadily being made.
I want to share my heart on a topic that I find very exciting and helps motivate me on a daily basis. The topic is economic development. While the commissioner’s “main” job duty is to keep and maintain a fiscally strong and healthy county budget (which we are doing), we can also help facilitate change and create conditions in which meaningful economic development can occur. All of this is done within the laws set forth in the Ohio Revised Code.
I hear sometimes that some people believe that nothing meaningful is happening in Scioto County or Portsmouth, that nothing is being done to facilitate economic growth. There could be nothing further from the truth. In the last 3-1/2 year’s great progress has been made to open up Scioto County to the world. It started in early 2013 with the re-organization of the Southern Ohio Port Authority by the Scioto County Commissioners. This re-organization revitalized SOPA and changed the direction of economic development for Scioto County and our region. Strong business and community leaders were added to the existing board and together they set out to better our area. The re-enforcements worked and progress is being made on many fronts.
Our area has many entities that work very hard every day to see prosperity. These are what I like to call and I see as vital parts to our Economic Gateway Arch to the future. The Arch spreads from Lucasville on State Route 23 to Portsmouth then on to New Boston and Haverhill/Franklin Furnace on State Route 52 and all points in between following the new and currently under construction Veterans Memorial Highway. This forms on Arch of Opportunity with huge potential. Along this arch of opportunity sits many dynamic organizations working hard to facilitate growth. In Lucasville, we have the Balzer Industrial Park which is quickly filling up with new companies and opportunities including the recent acquisition of 50,000 sq. ft. by the Scioto County Career Technical Center for workforce training. The advanced manufacturing center they are actively working on will be a game changer for Scioto County and our region. The SCCTC South Campus continues to be a strong advocate for preparing students for the job market. In Rosemount, the Clay Industrial Park hosts several companies who continue to prosper. Further south into Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Government offices, the Scioto County Commissioner’s, The Scioto County Regional Planning Office, the newly formed land bank known as the Scioto County Land Reutilization Corporation, Ohio Means Jobs, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Portsmouth Visitor’s and Convention Bureau, the Southern Ohio Port Authority, Shawnee State University, the Scioto Area Foundation and Main Street Portsmouth work hard every day to further economic prosperity. The Norfolk & Southern rail yards and McGovney river port continue to operate major arteries of transportation for river and rail access. To the east, New Boston government is heavily involved in prosperity. The Bob Walton Industrial Park is essentially now full and several jobs have been added in recent years. A greatly improved adjacent river dock facility operated by Infra-Metals unloads steel for their operations. The Conley River Terminal by the Portsmouth Water Treatment Plant is growing and prospering. Further east, the Franklin Furnace and Haverhill corridor is being looked at by many companies for industrial development. Heading northwest and back toward Lucasville, the construction of the Veterans Memorial Highway will open up land in the Minford area and north-east parts of the county for development. Work has already started to prepare and market the area at the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport. Scioto County owns a lot of land adjacent to the airport and there is a desire to see this area developed as part of increased traffic that will result from the highway being built. There are so many entities and countless individuals involved. Many entrepreneurs are starting new enterprises in and around our area and to all of them, I salute your efforts! I have most likely left someone out and if I did I apologize. In addition to what is happening along the State Route 23/52/823 corridor, the county is working on many initiatives to further development in the western sections of Scioto County. I hope to address these further in coming columns.
The point here is “Great things are happening!” Many many hours are being spent every day to bring good paying jobs and prosperity to our area. Someone once said “Success comes in CANS, not in CANNOTS!”. If we are to succeed we must follow this advice. If we CAN continue to come together, if we CAN work toward a common goal, if we CAN believe in ourselves, the future will be bright indeed.