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Business leaders headed to D.C.

A group of local business leaders are planning a trip to Washington D.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

A group of local business leaders are planning a trip to Washington D.C. in the coming weeks. But this won’t be a leisure tour.

Lawrence Economic Development Corporation executive director Patricia Clonch said the delegation will meet with elected officials there to discuss economic issues facing southern Ohio.

At the top of the list is the loss of money for the Empowerment Zone that Lawrence County shares with Cabell County, W.Va. President Bush has proposed cutting funding for Empowerment Zone projects.

"The loss of Empowerment Zone money is a major loss for us," Clonch said.

Her office collected the names of 38 concerned area leaders and forwarded those names in a letter to Gov. Bob Taft, asking him to include his own name and send the letter on to President Bush.

This area is one of 15 designated Empowerment Zones that stands to lose funding for economic development projects unless the money is restored by Congress.

"We have success stories, real success stories," Clonch said. "We know we can do even more in the future, but we have to keep the funding coming."

She mentioned the success of The Point industrial park as one of the examples of what federal money can do to help in local job creation.

"That used to be a big overrun field," Clonch said.

Now, approximately 140 people earn a living at the various businesses who have or will be located there.

Clonch said she hopes the local delegation can meet with Sens. Mike Dewine and George Voinovich, along with 6th District Congressman Ted Strickland. Since Cabell County, W.Va. is also part of the Empowerment Zone, the delegation will also seek meeting times with the congressional leaders of West Virginia.

The visit is being planned for early April.