Building a foundation for economic growth

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JobsOhio recently announced record project and job creation results for 2021. As the regional JobsOhio network partner, Ohio Southeast Economic Development (OhioSE) also experienced near record results last year, assisting 46 company expansions and new locations in 2021. Those companies will create 1,340 new jobs and invest over $352 million in fixed assets.

These milestones are great news for Ohio and Southeastern Ohio. The momentum built in the last 10 years by JobsOhio, its six regional network partners, and local development professionals is encouraging for the future of Southeast Ohio. OhioSE is also celebrating its 10-year anniversary. Over the past decade, the organization has built a strong team of 12 dedicated professionals, developed a brand, supported over 270 projects that have or will create over 9,000 jobs, invested over $42 million of JobsOhio funds in 19 speculative site and building development and redevelopment projects, and helped to lay a foundation for future business growth in the region.

“Because we are part of a broader regional team of economic development partnerships, we extend our sincere appreciation to all of our partners working to make our region economically stronger,” said OhioSE President Mike Jacoby.

“But the numbers only tell part of the story,” said Jacoby. “I have worked in economic development in Ohio for 28 years and experienced economic development strategies and implementation under five different governors. Never in my career have companies, communities and economic development professionals in Ohio had access to so many different tools and programs.”

The JobsOhio model under the leadership of the DeWine-Husted Administration is not only capitalizing and winning corporate project opportunities in the top 10 sectors that drive Ohio’s economy, the model is also building for an even better and stronger future economy. JobsOhio’s strategic investments in innovation districts, fast-growth company funding through a growth capital fund, talent development programs, support for transformational downtown mixed-use property redevelopment, targeted assistance to small business in distressed areas or with disadvantaged ownership and investments to leverage speculative site and building development will pay big dividends for Ohio.

In southern and eastern Ohio, OhioSE has partnered with JobsOhio and others to lay a foundation for growth. Below is a summary of activities beyond the corporate expansion and new location projects mentioned above. In 2021, OhioSE:

* Awarded the last of the $15 million JobsOhio-OhioSE Sites Initiative funding for the development of two industrial parks in distressed rural counties.

* Offered five projects JobsOhio Ohio Site Inventory grants and loans for speculative site and building projects.

* Submitted properties, data and hosted company visits for the most active corporate site selection year in its history. These projects take time to develop and become final, but one site is under contract, and another site in the region is currently a finalist for a large project.

* Assisted 22 small businesses in distressed areas or with disadvantaged owners with expansions through the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant program. These grants accelerate the growth of small businesses, and the businesses have outperformed expectations.

* Assisted Coshocton win a JobsOhio Vibrancy Fund grant for a transformational downtown incubator and co-working space redevelopment project.

* Completed 357 business retention and expansion meetings with regional companies and local economic development partners.

* Was named as a partner in a multi-state Appalachian Region Commission award that will provide technical assistance in distressed communities for six or more redevelopment projects.

* Conducted free trainings for local elected officials and board members on economic development tools and strategies and provided short-term project planning consulting to five communities through a contract with expert attorneys at Bricker & Eckler.

* Held free worker recruitment webinars and advised companies on strategies to find and retain workers. It will soon complete a grant application it started last year seeking $9 million in federal funds to implement a model to address manufacturing workforce shortages and skill deficiencies.

A vitally important development – one that will be much more visible in the coming months – is the build out of a board of regional business leaders by OhioSE’s parent organization: the Appalachian Partnership Inc. (API). API, under the leadership of CEO Dr. Glenda Bumgarner, is assembling a group of CEOs that can present a united and powerful voice for the region’s business community.

“Metro areas have done this very effectively for years in Ohio,” said Jacoby. “While mostly rural, when our 25 counties unite, we have over 1 million people. By working together, we can be influential too.”

“While we are certainly working hard and feeling good about the progress we’ve made, OhioSE is acutely aware that our region still lags the rest of the state in most any measure of economic health,” said Jacoby. “Bluntly, we still have a lot of work to do. But never before has the region had access to so many resources or been better organized to act as a competing region. I am convinced we are on the right path and the trajectory is only up.”

Submitted by Sarah Arnold, OhioSE director of communication and marketing.

Submitted story