PDT Staff Writer
According to, Todd Book, Scioto County Interim Economic Development Director, efforts are under way to form a unified economic development agency that would serve the needs of the county and the Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA).
“Throughout the years, one of the concerns has been that we don’t really have a full-time economic development staff associated with trying to develop the county. Though, we’ve done as good as we can with what we’ve had,” Book said. “At this point we have the opportunity though Fluor-B&W Portsmouth and the assistance they want to provide as community outreach. To establish this one-stop shop for economic development in Scioto County.”
He said Fluor-B&W Portsmouth has already reached out to the county and provided some funding to help with establishing such an agency.
Book said since he’s taken on the role of interim economic development director for Scioto County, this has been one of his tasks.
He said forming such an organization is, “a little like the law, in the sense that you look to see how other people have done it and learn from their successes and mistakes.”
He said this type of structure has worked in communities throughout Ohio.
“From what’s out there you see your need for a central system that’s attached with the commissioner’s office, that can be used to go out and do marketing and grant applications and all of the aspects that’s associated with economic development,” Book said. “This is what we are trying to create. We are still in the first steps of that but it’s something we want to get done because the county needs the direction for economic development.”
Book said the organizations aim would not be to take the place of any existing economic development organizations. He said the goal would be to aid their efforts.
“We see this relationship we have with Fluor-B&W Portsmouth as an avenue to have the resources we need and the assistance both technical and personnel that’s needed. To help us establish this one-stop shop for economic development in Scioto County,” Book said. “The goal is not to shutdown or stop anyone else’s activities. The university has some economic development activity, I know there are some business people that has some economic development activities. The goal is not to limit those groups or folks in anyway but, for the point of the spear to be the economic development office that’s attached to the Southern Ohio Port Authority and the county commissioner’s office.”
He said the municipalities within the county would be included and that is evident with the recent expansion of the Southern Ohio Port Authority from 11 to 21 members.
“We’ve added more people from the city, more people from New Boston and people that live in various parts of the county. We done this with the goal of having this group reach out to all of the constituency in the county so, that no one really feels left out,” Book said.
Book said the formation of this agency will not be cheap.
“We were talking with a specialist yesterday (Thursday) from Fluor-B&W Portsmouth about the cost associated with having this type of economic development activity,” Book said. “We will make due with what we have and we’ll try to create a system that will be effective for the county and one that will be better than what we’ve had in the past. Hopefully this will be created in such a way it can meet the needs of the community as we move forward.”
Book said Fluor-B&W Portsmouth have help the county with some funding towards this effort and the county is anticipating more help in the future.
“They’ve committed to helping not just Scioto County but the four counties that are effects by the A-Plant which would be Ross, Pike, Jackson and Scioto. They’ve committed to helping all four of those counties with economic development activities,” Book said. “They know at some point in the future there is not going to be as much activity at the A-Plant as there is now and we need to use their (Fluor-B&W Portsmouth) assistance, to create a system so we can replace those jobs that will be lost in the future with jobs now and help the entire area.”
As far as a time line moving forward, Book said, “the first step from the commissioners’ perspective was to change the Port Authority, so it had a more broad based group of folks. The next step includes for formation of a committee to look into the bylaws of the Port Authority. Hopefully within the next couple of months we can have a new set of bylaws that will allow the Port Authority to be that much more effective.”
He said the third step would mean starting to form a staff of people that are dedicated to and specialize in economic development.
“My goal is to hopefully by the end of this year to have us (Scioto County) in a good position for the county to have a good solid staff of people that are prepared and dedicated to economic development,” Book said.
Book said he is not forming this agency so that once established, he can run it.
“I like the process of helping the commissioners create this entity. We need to find someone that’s dedicated and knows about economic development. That’s not what I was trained in, I appreciate the opportunity with the commissioners have given me to help them create this structure. They knew and I knew going into this we would have to find someone that had an economic development background,” Book said. “I think at the end of the day we will have someone who has a lot of experience in or someone that is very hungry for this type of activity.”
Book acknowledged he is essentially working himself out of a job. He said at this point its to early to talk about details of the agency.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org