More than $40 million in new investments, 420 new jobs created and 875 jobs retained in Highland County since 2011 are a few of the tangible economic development results touted Tuesday by Katy Farber, project manager for the portion of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) that serves Highland, Adams, Gallia, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties.
Farber, former president of the Highland County Chamber of Commerce, told Hillsboro Rotarians that APEG has been involved in nine major projects in Highland County since 2011, among them Corvac Composites and Johnson Controls in Greenfield, PAS Technologies in Hillsboro and Candle-lite in Leesburg.
APEG is a network partner of JobsOhio, the controversial private non-profit entity created by Gov. John Kasich and approved by the state legislature in 2011 to drive economic development and attract industry. Geographically, APEG is the largest of JobsOhio’s six regional agencies around the state, covering 14,000 square miles. Since 2013, JobsOhio has been funded by state liquor sales.
Farber said APEG not only works directly on the economic development side, but with other support systems, too.
Locally, she credited an effective partnership with commissioner Shane Wilkin and commission clerk Nicole Oberrecht – who Wilkin said leads economic development efforts for the office – as well as Tara Campbell, director of Workforce Services at the Highland County office of Ohio Means Jobs. Wilkin, a Rotarian, and Oberrecht were in attendance Tuesday at the Ponderosa Banquet Center. Campbell addressed Rotarians two weeks ago.
When Corvac, which makes automotive supplies and began operations in the former RR Donnelley facility last year, was considering where to locate and create 175 new jobs, Farber said state and regional incentives were important, but the company had to be sold on another significant factor.
“We had to convince them that there were workers here,” she said, and data was found to demonstrate that a strong workforce was in place and ready to be employed. Farber said Corvac represents “100 percent new investments and all new job creation.”
Farber plugged industrial parks in Greenfield and Leesburg as positive indicators of more jobs coming to Highland County.
A handout distributed by Farber noted several benefits southern and southeastern Ohio can offer employers, including:
• Uncongested four-lane highways providing east-west access via SR 32 and north-south access via U.S. 23.
• 451 miles of Ohio River shoreline and 125 ports offering access to industrial sites, road and rail transportation, and an alternate route to the Gulf of Mexico.
• Major rail lines serving the entire region, with rail on-site locations available.
The handout also noted “low cost of business” advantages, including low-cost energy, low cost of living, tax advantages and “wages below U.S. & Ohio averages.”
More information about APEG can be found at www.APEG.com.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or by email at [email protected]