Region Is Ripe for Economic Development

After seeing 1,652 jobs created in southeastern Ohio in 2014, the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) region of JobsOhio is striving to create more in 2015 and focusing largely on industry that’s already established in the area.

The APEG region covers 25 counties, including Washington, Noble, Monroe, Morgan, Gallia, Lawrence, Carroll, Holmes and Ross, and is a part of JobsOhio, a private, nonprofit organization that promotes job creation and economic development for Ohio.

JobsOhio put out its 2014 annual report Monday, highlighting progress in the regions across the state for job creation and upcoming projects and focuses for 2015.

Jesse Work, plasma operator at Waterford Tank, moves a sheet of metal into position for an oil and gas storage tank Tuesday

Industries taking the focus this year include wood-based manufacturing and the automotive supply chain.

“Our white oak is considered the best in the world,” said John Molinaro, president and CEO of APEG. “It’s not well known and we have incredible opportunities for that.”

There are around 500 firms in the supply chain in the southeastern region, from timbering the trees to making the finished product, and Molinaro said it’s important to focus on them and help them grow.

Fact Box

JobsOhio’s annual report, out Monday, showed a total of 21,377 jobs created across the state.

The Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) region of JobsOhio created 1,652 jobs, less than the average of 2,000 a year.

Other regions’ jobs include: Columbus 2020-6,508; the Dayton Development Coalition-3,643; Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Cincinnati-3,417; Regional Growth Partnership in the Northwest-2,363; and Team NEO in the Northeast-3,794.

Source: Times research.

Molinaro said the location of the region is ideal, with traditional automotive industry to the north and newer in the south.

“Southern Ohio is probably the best place in the country for (industry) out there and we’re trying to make that case,” he said. “It will be even better when the Portsmouth bypass is finished. The project has been on the drawing boards for 30 years and now it’s going forward.”

Many of the roads in the APEG region are up to interstate standards, which Molinaro said makes them ideal for less congestion than in larger cities.

Work will also continue with oil and gas companies, said Molinaro.

“Our work for attraction is mostly midstream and downstream companies who utilize the shale gas resources coming out of the ground in eastern Ohio,” he said.

APEG has also been working to identify sites along the Ohio River for possible future development, in order for companies to take advantage of the river as a resource.

“We look forward to having opportunities…for transportation made available by the Ohio River,” said Molinaro.

The Southeastern Ohio Port Authority has been working with APEG to identify sites in Washington County for potential development, including Wetz Transportation on Blue Knob Road, the AMP Ohio site on Ohio 7, Price Inland Terminal on Ohio 618 and the AEP Newbury site on Newbury Road in Belpre Township.

“We’re working with JobsOhio on the Route 7 sewer project,” said port authority Director Jim Black. “We also have the river strategy working with them. For 2015, that’s probably the biggest thing right now…The river is a very good asset and we’ll have to be there to encourage development.”

An engineering study is under way for the sewer project, expected to be completed in May or June. The hunt will be on for funding in July, with a projected end date of July 2016.

In 2014, APEG reports the creation of 1,652 jobs in southeastern Ohio. The Columbus 2020 region created 6,508 jobs, the Dayton Development Coalition had 3,643 jobs, Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Cincinnati created 3,417, Regional Growth Partnership in the Northwest created 2,363 and Team NEO in the Northeast created 3,794 jobs.

Jobs were brought into the APEG region by Tri-State Beef, a subsidiary of South Korea-based DAEKYUNG Oil & Transportation, in Bidwell for a beef slaughter, packaging and advanced protein processing facility which created 224 new jobs. Rural King, a farm and home goods retail chain also moved into Waverly, bringing 120 new jobs.

Other jobs were created by Kraft Foods Group, Inc., which had 300; and MarkWest, with 145.

Waterford Tank, located on Ohio 83, was a recipient of a JobsOhio grant in 2014.

“The grant was to connect the sewer line from Beverly to the plant,” said Dan Bloom, CFO at Waterford Tank. “That’s being installed now.”

The facility serves the oil and gas industry in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois by manufacturing oil and gas storage tanks.

Another part of the grant was to expand the facility in both space and employees.

“As a part of that (grant) we made the commitments for expansion of the facility, equipment and people,” said Bloom. “We’re almost done; we have more than doubled the size of the facility…we’re up about 50 percent in employment.”

The facility now has little more than 90 employees. Additions to the facility were put on last year, but work isn’t quite finished on the equipment upgrades.

Molinaro said the goal is to increase job numbers from last year and focus largely on projects.

“Our target is projects, not jobs related,” said Molinaro. “The number of projects was up (last year)…Over the first three years, we’ve averaged 2,000 jobs a year…It’s tougher to drive job numbers (up) as economic recovery continues because we’re starting from a higher base. At the end of 2015, another 2,000 jobs is a real possibility.”

Overall, Molinaro said it’s important to take advantage of the manufacturing workers in the region.

“We’ve got an incredible manufacturing workforce that’s a great asset to us,” Molinaro said. “(In our region) one in seven workers work in manufacturing, in Ohio, it’s one in 10…We’ve got a lot of skills in our region’s workforce…We’ve had great successes and we’re poised to do even more.”

FROM: The Marietta Times  |  March 4, 2015

By Amanda Nicholson