By Wayne Allen
The Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) has formed a unique partnership with Lawrence County for Economic Development. According to SOPA Executive Director Jason Kester, the partnership would bring the two agencies together with the goal of bringing economic development to the corridor between Wheelersburg and Hanging Rock.
Kester said one the first tasks of the partnership is to inventory what infrastructure is already there, and what needs to be there to attract potential businesses.
“No one really knows what we have there (infrastructure). I went there to ask them (Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation) if they had GIS mapping of that area or know where all of the fiber optic cables are, among other things,” Kester said. “They knew some of the information but not all of it.”
Kester said there was an initial study done of the corridor in 1996 that identified what infrastructure was in place at the time.
“We have to figure out what we have (infrastructure) first before we could even consider making that area ready from economic development,” Kester said.
Kester said during the Dingus acknowledged the differences the two counties have had in recent history. He said Dingus specifically mentioned the ongoing issues with the Lawrence Scioto County Solid Waste Management Distric,t and the issue of Lawrence County wanting to open a jail in Scioto County.
“Trying to get them to corporate on economic development might be a bridge too far, but we’re going to give it a try,” Kester said.
Kester believes a partnership with Dingus and Lawrence County would only benefit both counties.
“We’ve got a partnership with Pike and Ross Counties. I’ve also met with Adams County Economic Development officials trying to figure out way we can work together,” Kester said.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.