• 46°

Luncheon outlines Lawrence County’s strengths

Economic and workforce development and why Lawrence County is excelling at it was all the talk at the Chamber of Commerce’s 4th Friday Luncheon at the Knights of Columbus in Ironton.

Two of Ohio’s prominent jobs, commerce and workforce development experts — one each from the public and private sectors — were co-keynote speakers at the luncheon. Deputy Director of the Ohio Office of Jobs and Commerce Glenda Bumgarner and President of Argus Growth Consultants Chris Schmenk, former director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, each bragged on Lawrence County.

“You have made it rain in the middle of the desert,” Bumgarner said. “To see what you’ve done here is absolutely staggering. You all don’t just give lip service. You are making it happen here.”

Bumgarner’s office is a division within the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and said the Ironton-Russell Bridge is an “amazing investment to help facilitate economic development.”

ODOT invested more than a million dollars in Lawrence County last year, Bumgarner said, and is always ready to assist in growth.

“If a company has needs, it’s usually workforce, transportation and operating costs,” she said. “As you are working to get people to work, we are helping you.”

Schmenk was heavily involved in the Jobs Ohio initiative during her stint as director of Ohio Development Services and has continued the effort through her current private-sector work.

“What’s happening locally is what’s responsible for economic development,” Schmenk said. “It’s not all about what’s going on in Columbus. So many places I see territorial issues hindering development, but not here in Lawrence County. Here I see stakeholders coming together and putting the greater good first.”

Both women were highly complementary of Lawrence County Economic Development Corporation Dr. Bill Dingus for his accomplishments.

“(Dingus) has been talking to the right people,” Bumgarner said, “and the governor is aware of it.”

Chamber members who are business owners and entrepreneurs were asked to raise their hands and Bumgarner offered her services to any of them who may have trouble accessing available beneficial resources.

Chamber President Larry Anderson acted as the Master of Ceremonies and announced the next chamber luncheon would be at noon on Friday, Feb. 28, at Ohio University Southern’s Proctorville Center with a representative from American Electric Power as keynote speaker.

The chamber’s Spotlight Dinner and silent auction will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at South Point High School. Jim Thornton, the voice of Wheel of Fortune, will be guest speaker and Anderson said the chamber is in need of items for the silent auction. Contact the chamber at 740-377-4550.