SODI awards grant to Jackson airport

April 20, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

A new 2,000 square-foot terminal at the James A. Rhodes Airport in Jackson County is on the horizon thanks in part to the recycling efforts of clean scrap metals from the U.S. Department of Energy’s former uranium enrichment facility in Piketon. The Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) has announced the award of a $150,000 grant from its recycling proceeds to the Jackson County Commissioners for the planned project to enhance the airport located five miles southeast of Jackson.

“The upgrades will be a huge benefit to the region. Jackson County is home to a major frozen food distributor, the largest precious metals operation in North America and other industry,” Steve Shepherd, SODI executive director, said. “The airport improvements were much needed for them to continue to operate in Jackson County and to grow additional business opportunities.”

This is the fourth major grant provided by SODI to the region from their metals recycling efforts. SODI has an agreement with the Department of Energy that provides for the transfer of scrap metals, surplus equipment and properties from the DOE site with half the proceeds targeted to economic development initiatives in the four surrounding counties of Scioto, Pike, Ross and Jackson.

Other $150,000 grants have been awarded to the Southern Ohio Port Authority in Scioto County to support utility relocations at the site of the new $13 million Infra-Metals processing plant under construction in New Boston, expected to employ 100 workers when complete; the Pike County Commissioners for a $2.7 million project to extend sewer services in the Shyville and Schuster Road areas southeast of Piketon; and the Ross County Commissioners for a road extension project at the entrance to the Gateway Industrial Park on State Route 104 just west of Chillicothe.

“The SODI grant for the expansion of the Jackson airport will serve to attract new businesses to southern Ohio,” Department of Energy Site Director Vince Adams said. “The Department is pleased to support economic growth through our partnership with SODI. Recycling of these clean scrap metals prevented the materials from being landfilled – it’s a huge win-win for everyone. ”

The grant for the Jackson airport was awarded by SODI to representatives from the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and Jackson County Economic Development Board.

Jennifer Jacobs, executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development Board, said all the primary stakeholders in the county agreed that the airport project was their first priority.

“We have a long-term vision for our county and this airport is a tremendous asset for our region,” Jacobs said. “One of our employers has international customers. Several employers bring executives in and we need to have the amenities to serve them for future economic growth. Our airport has one of the longest runways and has room for additional expansion.”

The James A. Rhodes airport operates daily with a 5,200 foot runway. It has 22 aircraft based on the field and averages 116 aircraft operations per week.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.