In recognizing the possibility for economic development along U.S. 52 in Scioto and Lawrence counties, the Southern Ohio Port Authority and the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation have formed a partnership.
The two agencies have had a working relationship for a while, and their latest collaboration could result in the formation of an industrial park in Scioto County.
At its last meeting of 2015, the SOPA Board of Directors voted to purchase a 90-day option from Hadsell Development on an industrial park in Wheelersburg for $25,000.
Jason Kester, Executive Director of SOPA said having the option on the 522 Industrial Park fills a deficiency of the community.
“The number one deficiency of our community is a lack of available sites and buildings. Other than the five acres remaining in the Bob Walton Industrial Park, we do not have another industrial park in the county,” Kester said.
After meeting with the Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation, Scioto County Commissioners, representatives from the city of Portsmouth and the village of New Boston, SOPA need to make sure the community has an industrial and a commercial business park where businesses can be placed.
Kester said purchasing the option is part of the overall economic development plan for the area.
“We’re working with Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation to determine if that’s where we want to plant our flag and make that our industrial park area,” Kester said.
Kester said the two organizations are doing some investigative work on the site to determine a number of things including the cost to building a building and cost to hookup utilities.
He said this work is being done before an agreement to purchase would be formalized.
Kester acknowledged the significance of this partnership.
“It would be a huge project for both counties. It will be unique in that, we’ve got two counties partnering to make the region better and it would be an extension of SOPA and Scioto County’s partnership with JEDISO (Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio),” Kester said. “For both counties to designate an area as the best area for development is really important.”
Included in the option to purchase the 522 Industrial Park was an overall price of $2.2 million.
Kester said to finance the purchase the assets of both counties can be leveraged.
He said the industrial park would complement the river strategy developed by the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG).
“We can pull both counties engineering expertise and we can pull both counties grant writers together. Combining the resources of the two communities, it’s a lot better than one going at it alone,” Kester said.
When asked if the purchase was within reach, Kester said, “yes, I think it’s something within reach. This is something we’ve talked with both sets of county commissioners about and we’ve talked with various stake holders in the community. Whenever we make a recommendation, saying this is what we need to do and this is how we’re going to move forward.”
He said once all of the prep-work is complete and they have all of the information about the site, a recommendation will be made to proceed with the purchase or not proceed with the purchase
No timeline was given on a possible purchase.
For more information about SOPA and its activities visit, www.sohpa.org.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT