LEDC elects new chief

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Chesapeake architect Bob Dalton will head the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation as president this year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Chesapeake architect Bob Dalton will head the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation as president this year.

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"LEDC has been a driving force, and with the opportunities we have in the not too distant future it can be great for us," Dalton said.

The organization’s leaders say priorities will center on creating jobs at the Empowerment Zone-funded South Point Industrial Park, which is expected to be ready for occupancy in late 2001, and continuing confidential business contacts, despite a decrease in LEDC general account funds.

Dalton, who chairs the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce’s transportation committee, accepted the LEDC presidency at its annual meeting Tuesday. Former president and Ohio University Southern Campus dean Dr. Bill Dingus declined reappointment.

"I’m a great believer that this community’s growth is a joint effort, whether I’m up there as president pulling or behind pushing," said Dingus, who had served as president for the last eight years.

His duties as campus dean intensified recently, prompting the decision, he said.

"I have enjoyed being president and working with (LEDC executive director) Pat Clonch and take pride in our accomplishments," he said. "And I know within the next few weeks that great things are heading for us here."

During the annual meeting, Dingus hinted that information the LEDC cannot yet release will mean a positive change for job-strapped Lawrence County.

"Within the next few weeks, all the clouds will roll away," he said.

As a community improvement corporation, the LEDC acts as the economic development arm for the county’s government entities, matching private sector expertise with state incentive funding, Dingus said.

The area’s recent loss of 1,000 jobs has been a stumbling block for that development effort, but the LEDC is considering a challenge that can pull the community together, he said.

Dingus will continue to serve the LEDC in an advisory capacity as the immediate past president.

Meanwhile, Dalton said he’s confident that a hardworking staff, teamwork among business and government, and the community’s understanding of the LEDC’s confidential meetings with industry contacts will help meet job creation goals.

"This organization is not totally unlike a bank board," he said. "There is some knowledge that would ruin corporations, so to serve the client, we have to deal confidentially."

People might accuse the LEDC of being secretive but that is not the case, Dalton said.

"There are some altruistic goals we have for the good of the community," he said.

LEDC trustees voted to rehire executive director Pat Clonch. There was no discussion. Trustees approved unanimously.

It’s wonderful that trustees can make such a decision so automatically, Dalton said.

Trustees also rehired Thomas Klein of Edwards and Klein as LEDC legal counsel. There was no discussion.

Treasurer Don Edwards gave the annual financial report.

Projected general account funds for 2000 will total about $180,000 – down $25,000 from previous budgets, Edwards said.

The budget change reflects a loss of funding from the City of Ironton, which is not expected to make its annual payment because the city is seeking its own industrial recruiter this year, Edwards said.

Ironton made a $43,350 payment last year.

The Lawrence County Commission made a $35,000 payment. Several local industries also continued donations.

To compensate for the budget shortfall, the LEDC moved deputy director Betty Driskell to the position of chamber of commerce coordinator, with responsibilities for workforce development, Edwards said.

General account expenditures for 1999 totaled $202,091.98, which included funds for office rental, phone and other utilities, advertising, equipment, taxes, insurance, personnel and other expenses.

The $29,518.66 real estate tax payment on the former Cabletron property was paid from monthly lease payments made by Cabletron Inc. Those payments, totalling about $56,000 each month, are current, Edwards said.

The regional Small Business Development Center received $109,815 in state funding reimbursements.

The Procurement Outreach Center received U.S. Department of Defense funds totaling $118,505.76.

Outstanding loans on the LEDC-owned Cabletron facility include $1,175,000 in bank loans, $1,834,000 in state loans and $198,000 in Community Development Block Grant monies, for a total of $3,208,168.36. The LEDC also has an oustanding $197,000 mortgage on the chamber’s South Point office building.

The 2000 board of trustees include: National City Bank area president Richard Adcock, vice president; Firstar regional president James Barrett, secretary; Proctorville Mayor James Buchanan; Ashland Inc. director of state and local government James Butler, assistant secretary; Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary; architect Robert Dalton, president; Dow Chemical plant manager Carl Darling; OUSC dean Bill Dingus, past president; Don Edwards, treasurer; South Point Mayor William Gaskin; county commissioner Paul Herrell; Chesapeake Mayor James Justice; State Farm Insurance owner Daniel Lester; Coal Grove Mayor Tom McKnight; Athalia Mayor Ronald McClintock; Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization executive director Keith Molihan; Bank One West Virginia vice president Daniel Mooney, assistant treasurer; county commissioner George Patterson; county commission president Bruce Trent; Gary Cartwright of Mid-Valley Supply; and Aristech Chemical plant manager Barry Elswick.