Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG), one of the regional partners of JobsOhio has been targeted by State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) over the past week and his claims are raising some eyebrows all across southern Ohio.
APEG acts as the single point of entry for economic development activities in the twenty-five counties they serve. The APEG-JobsOhio team works with site selectors, counties and communities to attract new companies and with the region’s existing companies to grow their operations.
Edwards claims that JobsOhio has not made large investments in the region and has asked Governor MIke DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted to help him. “In 2017 the number of projects funded in the 25 Appalachian counties by JobsOhio and APEG Ohio was less than 5%,” said Edwards. “Also, when you look at the percentage of money invested into our region, the 25 poorest counties got just over $5M out of $140M. That is around 3.7%. Shows what they think of us.”
How is Adams County doing? It appears to be a mixed bag. While JobsOhio and APEG are working to do some projects for Adams County, the county has suffered many closures and has had little to celebrate in the way of new businesses and expansions. According to records obtained online, the Appalachian Regional Commission has consistently funded Adams County for road and water projects, but other economic development has been scarce over the past decade.
JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart said that one of the highest priorities for job creators is to have sites that are ready for investment and job creation on day one.
“Businesses are much more likely to invest in sites that have proper power, natural gas, fiber sewer, road access are and other due diligence because it saves them time and dollars,” said Englehart. “It’s a strategy that takes time, but it is one that has been underway in APEG for years. JobsOhio has spent more dollars in the APEG Region on speculative sites than any other region.”
Englehart said that one project in Adams County is underway. “Through the APEG-JobsOhio Due Diligence Initiative, APEG Site Advisor, Donna Hrezo has been working for months with Holly Johnson and village/county utilities to provide due diligence on the proposed Winchester Industrial Park.” “This due diligence is being paid for by JobsOhio in an effort to get the industrial park developed as quickly as possible.” Englehart said the total investment-to-date is $43,000. Johnson is employed as the Economic Development Director for Adams County.
Jobs Ohio also released information regarding its work to help create and retain jobs at GE Aviation in Adams County. “APEG and JobsOhio worked on two projects with GE Aviation that created 59 news jobs and retained 304 jobs. The project led by APEG and JobsOhio also brought $1.1 million from in roadwork funding to the county to widen/improve Jaybird Road, SR 73 and to add lighting and acceleration lane to 32/73,” said Englehart.
The Roadwork Grants were combined with ODOT Jobs & Commerce, ODOT District 9 and other county, state and federal resources – for a total of $5.7 million – to make improvements and ensure continued safety for transfer of GE engines to/from GE Aviation Test Operations in Peebles.
JobsOhio was created in 2011 by House Bill 1. It was a top priority by former Ohio Governor John Kasich and leaders of the Ohio General Assembly.