RAYLAND - The Community Improvement Corp. is going to revisit its marketing strategy for the Jefferson County Industrial Park, looking to see what, if anything, they need to adjust as interest in the property builds.
Commissioner Dave Maple broached the subject, suggesting the CIC should think about what's been done at the park so far as well as what's still to be done, "how we keep it growing."
"I think we need to start from Step 1, really look at it and say, 'What do we need there,'" Maple said.
INVESTORS — Community Improvement Corp. Chairman Bob Chapman, center, talked about the importance of keeping their investor base engaged in the Progress Alliance mission while, from left, board members John Cucarese, Ed Florak, Jim Emmerling and Jefferson County Commissioner Dave Maple looked on. The CIC board met Thursday at Valley Hospice in Rayland.
Progress Alliance Director Ed Looman said there was a time in the not-too-distant past where they had to "work really hard to get people to look at it."
"Now we're getting lots of looks," he told the board. "We're working with a prospect now that actually wants to buy land there."
That's in addition to the recent announcement that Riley Petroleum would be relocating to the industrial park. The county commissioners recently transferred 5 acres at the park to the CIC for Riley's warehouse and headquarters, retaining 20 jobs and allowing for the company's future expansion.
Maple said that just hours before the CIC meeting, the county commissioners also were able to announce the Ohio Department of Transportation had committed $750,000 to the Jefferson County Airpark's runway extension project. The county's application for another $750,000 in funding through JobsOhio also has been filed.
The county commissioners have guaranteed the remaining $500,000 needed to leverage the state funding and complete the $2 million project, which will add another 600 feet in length to the 4,400 foot runway as well as widen it.
Commissioner Tom Graham said they're hoping the airport authority will be able to repay the loan, "but, regardless, we're backing it to make sure we get the $1.5 million from the state."
At their recent meeting, airport authority members had said they were more than willing to assume the obligation, since the payment would be roughly what they had been paying on three debts that have already or soon will be retired.
A longer, wider runway will allow bigger planes to land regardless of weather conditions without jeopardizing their insurance coverage. Up to this point, larger planes landing or taking off at the airpark have done so at their own risk.
"That's $1.5 million in free money coming to Jefferson County," Looman told the CIC board, noting that commissioners, the airport authority and other local leaders had been working for some time to secure the funding. "It's huge."
Maple pointed out that airport numbers have been on the upswing and with the oil and gas drilling industry moving into high gear locally, the runway extension will allow the county to capitalize on its full growth potential.
Board members, meanwhile, said they are trying to get the word out to their Progress Alliance investors that their continued involvement is needed as they transition to a countywide port authority, pointing out it could be years before the port authority is positioned to pick up the economic development mantle.
"We still need contributions from the private sector," CIC President Bob Chapman said. "We still all need to work together."