Fishing for business

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Finishing in 64th place might not, in some instances, seem like much of an achievement. However, the worthiness of such a finish depends entirely upon how many horses, so to speak, are in the race.

“If you think about it, 64th in the entire country, that’s very good actually,” says Renae Scott, director of marketing and communications for JobsOhio.

According to Site Selection magazine’s 2017 Governor’s Cup rankings, which were released earlier this month, Portsmouth ranked 64 out of every so-called “micropolitan” in the country. Overall, Ohio earned the No. 2 spot for total projects for the fourth consecutive year, and third in projects per capita, making Ohio the only state to place in the top three of both categories.

Cincinnati and Columbus both placed in the Top 10 list for Tier 1 Metros (population more than 1 million). Akron, Dayton and Toledo earned Top 10 rankings as well in the Tier 2 Metros category for cities with populations between 200,000 and 1 million.

Ohio micropolitans, defined as cities of between 10,000 and 50,000 people, earned 18 spots in the Top 100 micropolitans in the country. For the fourth straight year, Findlay was named the No. 1 overall micropolitan, with the cities of Wooster, Ashland and Tiffin all placing in the Top 10 of top producing micropolitans. Again, Portsmouth came in at 64.

“Companies in a variety of sectors are consistently choosing to invest throughout the entire state of Ohio, regardless of community size,” says JobsOhio President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor. “These strong results demonstrate how our close collaboration with state, regional and local partners helps us to better deliver Ohio’s valuable assets to help businesses thrive.”

Robert Horton is Scioto County economic development director. He says the area is actively seeking economic growth in a variety of ways. He seems to enjoy fishing metaphors.

“We’ve got plenty of lines in the water, and we’re angling for anything and everything,” Horton says.

As he has in the past, Horton talks about bringing the county and Portsmouth, Scioto County’s largest city, together. For too long, he adds, local politics have hurt development. “It affects us in a big way.” Horton continues, talking in the same vein about the reorganization of the Southern Ohio Port Authority. “It’s an avenue for economic development,” he adds, but notes the authority had been stripped of some of its management duties, which were turned over to the county.

Although he declines to identify the potential new businesses involved, Horton says the county is actively talking with several entities.

“We’re doing some talking, and there is some interest,” the director continues, adding two of the entities doing the talking currently are located overseas. “We’re trying to be very active in drawing businesses to this area.”

In the past, SOPA and county officials bragged they are ready to take advantage of the coming arrival of the Southern Ohio Veterans Memorial Highway.

The $634 million project was slated for completion in November of this year. A state spokesperson recently confirmed the project is ahead of schedule, though she declined to say by how much, adding an announcement should arrive by early summer.

Regarding the arrival of the new highway, also known as the Portsmouth Bypass, Horton talks a lot about how the highway sits in relation to the county airport in Minford. Horton notes the highway is part of a much larger plan dating back to the late 1950s.

“The county airport is right in the middle of that,” Horton says.

Horton further mentions a new sewer plant built in the Minford area as well as extension of an important road in the same area. The work was or is being done to help attract new industry to this portion of Southern Ohio.

There appears to be plenty of geographic room for growth in the county. A website of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth lists at least eight large sites in Scioto County, reaching up to 113 acres, available for commercial development. A spokesperson for the partnership, Donna Hrezo, said some information on the website dates to 2016, but she believes most of that land is still available.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]

Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931

Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931