Elected leaders push for FTZ

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

If a few men from Washington have anything to say about it, Lawrence County will have its foreign trade zone sooner rather than later.

U.S. Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and George V. Voinovich (R-OH), and Congressman Ted Strickland (D-Lucasville) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce to request that the approval process of the Lawrence County Port Authority Foreign Trade Zone Application be expedited.

Proponents of the plan have said that with a Foreign Trade Zone designation, the county could bring in new industry, encourage existing industry to remain and reinvest in the community and create new employment opportunities.

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“As a Foreign Trade Zone, Lawrence County would be better able to attract new industry to the region, which in turn would increase economic development and create jobs for hardworking families,” DeWine said.

“As competition increases both domestically and internationally, local authorities will have to pull out all the stops to encourage economic development. A Foreign Trade Zone designation is one such tool they can use to bolster industry and create jobs,” Voinovich said.

The bi-partisan sentiment was also shared by Strickland, a democrat who said that the approval of the FTZ could help bring jobs to the area he represents.

“The pressures of globalization are giving companies an incentive to look overseas,” said Rep. Strickland. “But a Foreign Trade Zone designation will raise Lawrence County’s profile in its efforts to attract and help keep jobs right here in southern Ohio.”

There has not been any opposition to Lawrence County’s application, but the three Ohio representatives urged the FTZ board to expedite the standard 120-day approval process.

Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Greater Lawrence County Area Chamber of Commerce and Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, has been pushing for the FTZ for years. He said that the letter could carry a lot of weight in the Department of Commerce, which he said receives “very, very many” similar items to evaluate.

“These things tend to be acted upon very slowly unless there is some type of encouragement, and to get the bi-partisan partnership of our legislative leaders is a powerful vehicle to move this up for consideration, letters like this just take our application and get it back on top of the stack.”