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County, city join forces on development

Lawrence County commissioners marshaled hundreds of thousands in support Thursday for an undisclosed city-county economic development project.

Friday, October 20, 2000

Lawrence County commissioners marshaled hundreds of thousands in support Thursday for an undisclosed city-county economic development project.

After executive sessions on real estate, commissioners signed a letter of intent to the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation.

The county will commit a maximum of 20 percent of project costs, not to exceed $260,000, to current economic development efforts by the LEDC and the City of Ironton, the letter stated.

No industries are named in the letter.

"It’s about jobs," commission president Bruce Trent said.

"We feel with the county’s participation, it will better facilitate economic development and increase the number of jobs available in the county," Trent said.

Commissioners have met with Ironton leaders and the LEDC several times within the last few weeks.

Monday, the three came together for a joint executive session to discuss possible leases and land acquisition.

State law allows government agencies to meet in private when considering property purchases or when premature disclosure would cause an unfair competitive advantage to another person.

Ironton City Council chairman Jim Tordiff said the city is currently studying and developing a plan on a development issue, but would not release details.

"We’re operating under ground rules given to the city," Tordiff said. "We have committed to confidentiality and it would not be in the best interests of anyone to breach that trust right now."

Tordiff said the city appreciates the county’s involvement in the project, calling the commission’s action positive.

At a special county commission meeting Tuesday, LEDC executive director Pat Clonch would not discuss details but said no decisions have been made.

The LEDC, county and city need to discuss land acquisition and see what direction to take, Mrs. Clonch said.

A partnership that could create jobs is welcome news to Lawrence County, considering the economic blow it took last year when companies shut down, putting almost 1,000 out of work, Trent said.

Liebert Corp.’s move this year into the LEDC building left vacant by Cabletron reduced those job losses by more than 200.

At an open house this summer, Liebert and state officials indicated the company’s Ironton workforce might grow to 300 by the end of the year. Local plant officials predicted an expanding future in Ironton, with two assembly lines in full production and a third line scheduled.

Work on the South Point Industrial Park – including that with an existing client there – and a new power plant project in Hanging Rock also have been announced this year.

County officials would not specify whether its financial assistance will benefit an existing company or a new company.

Developers have asked that information about the deal remain confidential because of the competitive nature of today’s business world, Trent said.

"We will honor that request from the potential company, or companies, involved," he said.

Staff writer Christopher Cecil contributed to this story.