SCIOTO — The Scioto County Commissioners gathered Thursday for its regularly scheduled meeting, sharing multiple updates surrounding the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport.
Later in the meeting, Scioto County Economic Development Director Robert Horton detailed a loan that would be going towards the S.O.A.R. Industrial Park.
Following conversations with the Ohio Development Services Agency, their board decided to approve a $2.5 million loan through the Rural Industrial Park Loan Program.
Horton said the loan program exists to help rural counties that would not have the funds otherwise to take on economic development projects. The loan is “unique” in the sense that 59% of it can be forgiven, essentially becoming grant money.
For five years, principal and interest payments do not have to be made.
“It’s a huge, huge deal for developers and for economic development agencies in these rural communities,” he said, the news garnering applause from the commissioners. “It gives them that incentive and initiative in being able to make a project like ours work and we took full advantage of it.”
Commissioner Bryan Davis said considerable inquiries into the park, a 5.125-acre site at the end of the new Barklow Road extension, have also been heard. The decision to move forward with S.O.A.R. prior to securing the RPIL was a bit of a gamble but still one based on evidence, he said.
“The risk was that we wouldn’t get it, but we had to make a decision. Do we believe in ourselves enough to invest in our community?” he said, the original press release going out in February making mention that the county was seeking the loan. “That was the decision we made. We had to do this.”
The location includes the business park but also utilities, which Davis feels made it more attractive to prospective businesses. Horton added later that gas lines offer from Utility Pipeline Ltd would bring 74,000 cubic feet of gas per hour to all sites at the park.
“The communities that during the pandemic didn’t sit still, that worked hard during the pandemic to make things like this happen, are the ones who are going to move forward faster,” Davis said.
Businesses entering the park will be manufacturing and warehouse-based, adding to the industrial corridor developments in Haverhill. What will not be going in there is another Dollar General as rumored on social media.
“If so, it would be the biggest Dollar General in the world,” Davis quipped. “Trust me, they have no problems finding locations in our community.”
Earlier in the meeting, the commissioners also voted to transfer property in front of the airport to the Southern Ohio Port Authority for another potential project in the works. The property is the green space right before the terminal.
Commissioner Scottie Powell said this development showed a sense of excitement in this part of the county.
“It seems like the dominoes are falling in the right direction,” he said.
The board also took the next step in gaining ownership of a decommissioned Iraqi War Tank in front of the Minford airport. Davis said two letters have been sent, one asking for ownership and one verifying the board as a valid government entity.
“This is one of the last steps we have to take in order to get possession,” he said, requesting ownership to prevent a local veterans’ group from having to pay $1 million in insurance fees. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get this resolved very soon.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @pkeckreporter. © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.