Hemmings new OVRDC director

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2008

Come Aug. 1, a Wheelersburg man will take the helm of the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission.

John W. Hemmings III was named the next executive director of the OVRDC at a May meeting after the current executive director, Jeffrey Spencer, announced his retirement.

Hemmings said he was excited to take the new position.

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“I’m glad for the opportunity,” Hemmings said. “I’ve stayed here so long because I enjoy what we do. I believe in the efforts of the agency and this is my home area.”

He began as a planner at the OVRDC in 1991 and has been the assistant director since 1999.

The 41-year-old agency’s mission is economic development in 12 counties: Lawrence, Scioto, Ross, Pike, Adams, Brown, Clermont, Fayette, Gallia, Highland, Jackson and Vinton counties.

“I am excited about the opportunity because this is the part of Ohio I grew up in and I’ve seen the struggles we have had and I can identify with it on a personal and a professional level,” Hemmings said.

He said one of the issues facing this part of southern Ohio is the upgrade and creation of infrastructure.

“Water systems, waste water lines and treatment facilities are all big issues, especially in older cities like Ironton,” he said. “We have dealt with that over the years. Aging infrastructure is a major issue here.”

Hemmings added that job creation as well as dealing with job loss is a another major issue in southern Ohio.

“It is a matter of striking a balance, that we put money in the right places so that the net effect is job gain,” he said.

He said while the mission of the agency remains the same, what they pursue has changed over the years.

“It depends of availability of funding for different areas,” he said.

From the 1990s up to a couple years ago, the OVRDC promoted international trade of goods made in this area since 95 percent of the population lives outside the United States. But that has changed somewhat.

“Sometimes you have to shift your focus to other things that are available but still meet your primary mission of economic development,” Hemmings said.

Hemmings said his vision for the agency is to become a stronger regional group.

“Because we are at the beginning of a new state administration that is putting some opportunities out there. And they are advocating regionalism,” Hemmings said. “I think given that we are an existing agency with 40 years experience in bringing those counties together, we are in good position to assist those 12 counties in whatever way they want.”

Hemmings graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is a board member of the Scioto County Farm Bureau, the Waverly Area Kiwanis Club and the Pike County Junior Achievement.