New development efforts started

Published 10:24 am Friday, June 10, 2011

Three years ago, economic development officials were mourning the death of a proposed steel mill at the border of Lawrence and Scioto counties when Russian steelmaker MMK pulled out.

Two years ago, officials were saying the Russians may be gone, but the idea of an electric arc mill remained viable. The mill has yet to be built.

Now, efforts to bring in heavy manufacturing were renewed Thursday when the Lawrence County Commissioners charged development officials to find that industry and entice it to this part of the Ohio River Valley.

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Right now, the county’s price tag for that request will come in at $60,000.

At its Thursday meeting, Commissioners Les Boggs, Paul Herrell and Bill Pratt agreed to the creation of the Green-Hamilton Development Oversight Committee. The committee will be formed by the Lawrence County Port Authority, Lawrence Economic Development and Southern Ohio Port Authority in Scioto County.

That committee will work with New Steel International, a development corporation based in Cincinnati, that has been out in the field marketing that area since 2008.

“The real intent is to try to do much more in the corridor between Wheelersburg and Hanging Rock,” Dr. Bill Dingus of the LEDC, said in a separate interview.

That corridor offers 5,000 to 6,000 acres of land for industrial development that would be served by the Ohio River, the N&S railroad and U.S. 52, Dingus said.

“There is a lot of potential in that area,” he said. “This will help partially fund the continued efforts in developing that. It will give us the ability to have some studies done to analyze land better, work with legal counsel to help put things together.”

The initial budget for the committee will be $120,000 funded by a loan from the LEDC, according to the terms of the agreement.

“No funds shall be used for any construction activities or acquiring property,” the agreement states. “The committee m ay make loans, at its discretion, to development projects in the Green Township, Hamilton Township area.”

The Lawrence County Port Authority will be responsible for one-half of the budget and will repay the LEDC for $60,000 — $30,000 in 2011 and $30,000 in 2012. That funding will come from the county commissioners.

The Southern Ohio Port Authority will be responsible for the other half paying the LEDC in $20,000 increments over the next three years.

“The important thing is completing the final studies,” Dingus said. “The final analysis done to get legal work set into position. It is all the investment in the development. There is risk involved. … The reason we do invest, we know the results if we don’t do it. We know we have something great in this region. It is those who go the extra mile. … This is more than just a single development. We have got to invest some money.”