A good year for Ohio, Hillsboro


The U.S. Labor Department reported that the nation’s jobs surged by 467,000 in the month of January. Pretty incredible, yet some say it’s possible that the U.S. might slip into a slight recession. Who knows anymore what’s economically promising and what isn’t. Machine trading on Wall Street isn’t always very rational.

A slight recession? Well, that might be a good thing if the result is a slowdown in inflation and consumer spending, and perhaps some downward pressure on prices. Gas prices are looking good. Diesel prices are terrible. The combination of the winter slow down in egg layers and the avian flu have kept egg prices in the stratosphere, somewhere next to the Chinese balloon.

The U.S. economy grew at a solid 2.9% annual rate last quarter, but that isn’t sustainable as we land from a hyper-inflated, post-pandemic economic environment. The prospects of a soft recession loom as we lean into the new year.

In spite of all that, Ohio’s economy is yeasting and proofing and baking its way into the new year. It promises to be a prodigious year for construction in Ohio with huge projects set to begin in New Albany (Intel), Jeffersonville (Honda), the Brent-Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, and millions to upgrade the Cleveland Port Authority on Lake Erie.

Ohio is set to receive $2 billion in federal infrastructure funding for roads, bridges, tunnels, water and electrical infrastructure. According to Columbus Business First (as reported first in The Labor Citizen), Ohio was able to attract “the most corporate investment in new buildings and equipment in any year since JobsOhio was founded in 2011. The $30.3 billion in capital projects announced in 2022 tripled the previous record of $9.56 billion set in 2017.”

One of the mega-projects includes the investment of $20 billion in Intel’s new chip manufacturing plant just 15 miles northeast of Columbus. That investment could grow and doesn’t include partners that will naturally be associated with the manufacturing plant.

Another mega-project includes Honda’s $4.4 billion electric vehicle battery plant located just 10 miles northeast of Washington Court House in Fayette County, expected to begin construction the spring of this year.

Press releases from Governors Andy Beshear and Mike DeWine have reported that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $1.635 billion in funding to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, for renovations and upgrades to the critical commercial passageway of the Brent-Spence Bridge. This was confirmed when President Biden met with Governors Beshear and DeWine at the bridge this month to consummate the deal.

Many other building and expansion projects are underway including the new Sherwin-Williams Headquarters building in downtown Cleveland, the Wexner Medical Tower in Columbus, expansion investments at Procter and Gamble and Cargill in Cincinnati and Kroger’s $25 billion purchase of Albertson’s, just to name a few.

But how about Hillsboro, Ohio?

In case you might have missed the news, mayor Justin Harsha reported at this past city council meeting that as the city leans into its next budget year, the city had a budgetary carryover of $1.5 million. In his words, “Our projected carryover for 2020 was approximately $200,000 compared to this year’s budget with a projected carryover of $1.5 million with no major cuts to report.” That represents tight budgeting and significant increases in revenue. Kudos to the mayor, safety and service director Brianne Abbott, the city council and its president Tom Eichinger for their capable and economical management.

On another higher note, this good budgetary news is only preface to city expectations for the new Marriott Hotel and Marshalls breaking ground this year and the beginning of work on the Robert’s Lane commercial development zone south of Kroger, north of Fenner Avenue and east of S.R. 73.

As reported earlier in the Times-Gazette, “During her report to the city council, Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Brianne Abbott said the city received 154 commercial building permits and 101 residential permits during the 2022 calendar year. Impressive.

All to say, from tough years past, Hillsboro appears to be rising like the resurrecting Phoenix. That would be the bird, not that thirsty city in Arizona.

Bill Sims is a Hillsboro resident, retired president of the Denver Council on Foreign Relations, an author and runs a small farm in Berrysville with his wife. He is a former educator, executive and foundation president.

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