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Two-county regional development possible



Since they share thousands of acres that could become multiple job sites, the leaders of Lawrence and Scioto counties are considering joining forces to create a regional economic development concept.

That’s why the commissioners from Lawrence and Scioto counties recently met with Bill Dingus, director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp., and Steve Wells, of Scioto County’s Economic Development Department to discuss a possible partnership.

“It is always intelligent to use your resources to become stronger,” Commission President Les Boggs said. “It is not about locations. It is about the region.”

At immediate stake is acreage in Green Township in Scioto County and Hamilton Township in Lawrence County, part of which could be the site of an electric arc steel mill if the development plans of New Steel International come to fruition.

“Those thousands of acres, rather than us trying to develop them,” Dingus said. “We should create a joint council and unite all of our efforts. (The LEDC) would be the strong partner for Lawrence County.”

Scioto County’s Port Authority could serve as the LEDC’s counterpart, Dingus said.

“Or we may create a new entity,” he said. “When you look at the jobs that are going to be created, whether in recruiting a new electric generating facility or a steel mill, Lawrence County and Scioto County will mutually share jobs. We need to mutually share expenses.”

Now, Dingus has been charged with determining the exact properties that could be developed and the studies such as archaeological, historical and environmental that would be required before development could begin.

“Industries want to come to a piece of land that is ready to use,” he said.

Most of the acreage is currently privately owned.

“We are just as pleased if we can help develop a private owner’s land without tying up any of our money,” Dingus said.

Commissioners Bill Pratt and Freddie Hayes joined with Boggs in wanting to consider a possible regional relationship.

“I am in full support,” Hayes said. “I think it is a good idea working together hoping to get something accomplished.”

“We think it makes sense to work together,” Pratt said. “Our region is the same. Our workforce is the same.”

Dingus anticipates having a proposal within the next 30 to 60 days.