Steel plant would be another victory

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The news that local economic development directors are making progress in negotiations with a Georgia steel company is certainly welcomed news.

The Ohio Department of Development granted Chatham Steel Corp., of Savannah Ga., a Job Creation Tax Credit, one of several necessary steps in bringing a steel plant to Hanging Rock.

The company, a wholesale distributor of carbon and stainless steel, is considering a parcel near Rumpke in the Hanging Rock corridor. It would employ about 60 and could be ready in six to nine months if details get worked out over the next two months. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence County Economic Development Corp., said Chatham has looked at designs that would allow it to expand if market conditions prove favorable.

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What should be recognized is victories like these are significant ones because of the changing economy. As the landscape changes for business and industry, so too has the climate for economic development.

Progress does not have to come with a plant coming to town that employs 5,000 people. Those days are gone.

But with that understood local development leaders have zeroed in on the types of businesses that fit Lawrence County. And their efforts show.

Earlier this week, statistics released by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services indicate Lawrence County’s unemployment rate stands at 4.9 percent. It is the lowest rate for any surrounding county and is below the state average of 5.7 percent.

The Chatham Steel project is far from a reality, but their interest in the region comes from the Tri-State’s strategic location to multiple states and, in its case, multiple customers. With business development occurring in downtown and industrial development occurring in the corridor and other parts of Lawrence County, it appears there is local momentum despite a downturn in the national economy.

And local development leaders have made that possible with a smart, sensible approach to marketing the county.