• 59°

Trip to ‘big city’ shows progress

Watching the green hills and farmland fly by outside the charter bus window along the driver’s “short cut” to Columbus illustrates exactly how big a divide there is between southern Ohio and the state capital.

The high rise buildings and bustling streets of the big city are a stark contrast to the quiet neighborhoods and natural beauty of Ironton and Lawrence County’s villages.

All the cliches could be used to describe the trip. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Or the more local one that, “Lawrence County is the only part of America that Columbus didn’t discover.”

If that was ever true, that certainly seems to be changing. And it is, in large part, thanks to the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce and concerned citizens year after year.

The goal of last week’s Legislative Day trip to Columbus was to make sure that state leaders understand the needs of our region.

Now in its 26th year, the trip is one part networking, one part lobbying and one part field trip. But it is all positive, with the outcome being aptly described by another cliche in that the “whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

This year the focus was on economic development and transportation projects, both areas that are vital to our region.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Development talked a little about the changes going on at the state level and heard from local leaders about their vision for the future.

From the individual meetings to Gov. John Kasich’s remarks, the key theme of the entire day was that the state, of course dealing with limited funds, wants to help communities that are helping themselves and have already built a strong foundation.

Daryl Revoldt, legislative and community outreach director for the new JobsOhio program, made a simple point that really exemplifies what local leaders are doing here and that is that economic development is about partnerships driven by local communities.

Far too often the perception is that local entities aren’t doing anything — or at the very least not enough — to create jobs and spur growth.

It became obvious that we are representing ourselves well among Ohio’s 88 counties and creating a strong case for coming here.

Trips like this one — which is very unique across the state — truly do make a difference.

The economy and entire world is changing. We have to change with it as we work to attract new jobs and transform Lawrence County’s economic base.

“We can wish, hope and pray or we can get to work,” Jason Wilson, director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, said about focusing on 21st Century jobs. “I vote we get to work because wishing, hoping and praying isn’t working too well these days.”

Events like the Legislative Day show that there are many people working for progress and countless more who care about Lawrence County. All of us need to lend a hand and support those efforts with a positive attitude and energy.

Of course it doesn’t hurt to wish, hope and pray a little too.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.