Group needs more results from chamber

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2000

Former Cabletron employees and city officials must unite their interests in bringing jobs to Ironton before state officials –  specifically Gov.

Wednesday, January 05, 2000

Former Cabletron employees and city officials must unite their interests in bringing jobs to Ironton before state officials –  specifically Gov. Bob Taft –  will come to Ironton.

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Following Tuesday’s round-table discussion with Joy Padgett of Taft’s Office of Appalachia, a smaller group stayed behind with Ms. Padgett and Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary. The group is charged with finalizing plans for a possible rally in Columbus and other meetings that concern focusing the city’s job-hunting efforts by gathering community support.

The rally, originally intended to gain the attention of state representatives to recent job losses in the city, would only be a way to gain negative attention or would have no impact at all, Ms. Padgett said during the meeting.

While Cleary heads to Columbus Thursday to meet with Michael Jackson, an industrial recruitment specialist in the state’s Department of Development. The group will temporarily hold its plans to organize a rally.

Fear of embarrassment, however, is not the reason they will postpone the rally, group members said. Instead, waiting to see what help a state industrial recruiter could bring, as well as giving city and county officials one more chance to reach a unified agreement and incorporate a definite, visible plan of action, is the better course at this time, members decided.

If a public meeting with state, county and city officials scheduled for Jan. 11 yields no viable results, however, the displaced workers have had enough waiting. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Ohio University Southern Campus’s Bowman Auditorium.

"We shouldn’t have to form our own committee," said former Cabletron employee Judy Bond. "Where are the people that we have elected or appointed or, however it is they got the job, who are supposed to be bringing businesses to the county and the city?"

Specifically, the group expressed frustration with the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, which owns the Cabletron building.

"You’re dealing with the landlords here," Ms. Padgett said. "It is their building and they have a right to do with it what they want."

That said, Ms. Padgett expressed the need to speak with LEDC president Bill Dingus and chamber executive director Pat Clonch. In addition, Ms. Padgett suggested Cleary request a similar meeting with Mrs. Clonch.

"Nothing has happened in Ironton but job loss and everybody knows of the different things that have happened in the eastern end of the county," Cleary said. "We’ve got to market more than just the South Point Ethanol Plant property. It feels like the Cabletron building is being held hostage because the city rejected the idea of allowing (OUSC) to use it the way they wanted to."

If the people charged with bringing jobs to the city cannot reach an agreement, the governor will not visit the city, Ms. Padgett said.

"I would not want to bring the governor into a situation where there is no unity," she said.

Although some opinions differ, unity already exists, former Cabletron employee Debbie Horner said.

"We know what we want and we are united. We need jobs," Ms. Horner said. "You’re going to hear a very positive side from (Mrs. Clonch). You’re going to hear that she’s right there with us. But, when we get down to the actuality of things, we have been the ones circulating petitions and trying everything we can think of, everything we can do, but where are they?"

Regardless of apparent differences of opinion regarding the focus of job recruitment efforts, doubling those efforts and executing a plan to bring jobs into the city is the most important thing, Cleary said.

"I’m willing to do whatever it takes to bring industry into Ironton," he said. "We certainly appreciate the suggestions brought to us by Ms. Padgett and we are going to continue working to get any aid available to us as a city."