More jobs agency’s mission

Published 11:08 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bringing another avenue for job creation into the region is the purpose of the newly formed Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG).

At the Lawrence County Commission’s Tuesday work session APEG’s president gave a rundown on what the partnership wants to do for the county.

“We are passionately concerned about the future of this part of Ohio,” John Molinaro, APEG president, told the commissioners. “(We are using) a growth from within strategy.”

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A major focus of APEG is to be on expanding companies already located in the region.

“We work at the speed those businesses want to operate,” Molinaro said. “We take every asset here to make the most of it.”

One of those assets Molinaro sees is the Ohio River, making Lawrence County a good location for those companies whose mission is logistics.

“The river is an incredibly important resource,” he said.

APEG came about through a grant from Jobs Ohio Network and private business contributors and is serving a 25-county region in southern Ohio including Gallia, Scioto, Vinton and Jackson besides Lawrence.

JobsOhio is an initiative of Gov. John Kasich that he wants to fund with state liquor profits despite continued legal challenges.

Kasich’s plan would allow the Ohio Department of Commerce to lease the liquor business to JobsOhio. However opponents call the move unconstitutional.

On Friday a ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court sent that plan into limbo. According to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the court said it was the wrong venue for a ruling on the merits of the funding plan and it should be sent to the common pleas arena.

If the funding plan does get approval, Molinaro said there could be $100 million a year available statewide for economic development — $43 million of that earmarked for environmental cleanup.

“We want to make sure we have a strong regional voice,” Molinaro said.