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County, city given opportunity

I wanted to write to let our community leaders know that we have an opportunity to bring some jobs to Ironton and/or Lawrence County. Unlike most economic development projects that I have been a part of in our community in the past, I have some “inside information” on this one as I own the company that will be creating these jobs.

DropBox, Inc., headquartered in Ironton, has recently entered into a five-year, multi-million dollar contract that will cause our company to outgrow our manufacturing facility in Worthington, Ky.

Given the size of this contract, we are in need of an overflow facility or second manufacturing location. I have discussed this need with Dr. Bill Dingus of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation and he has been very accommodating. He has seemed equally passionate about the buildings that he has shown us in the city limits of Ironton, The Point and other buildings within Lawrence County.

Bill has been very fair and unbiased, and has given each of the buildings he’s located for us to consider equal credence and equal chance. In considering the buildings that Dr. Dingus has shown us, it looks as though the City of Ironton and Lawrence County at large have a couple of buildings that could work as a location for this new manufacturing facility.

I write all of this to say that this is a great opportunity for the county commissioners and other leaders of the county to work with Bill and put together a plan or package that will help us locate these jobs to Ohio and into our city or county.

As we are still in the process of finding a location that will meet all of our needs, we are also considering facilities in Greenup County, Boyd County, Scioto County and Athens County.

Though I am incredibly passionate about creating jobs in Ironton first and greater Lawrence County secondarily, at the end of the day, it will be the amenities of the building, availability of the building, and the dollars involved that will decide where we ultimately land on placing these jobs.

I helped found the Ironton Port Authority some years ago and sat on the original board of directors of both the Ironton and the Lawrence County Port Authorities.

In my 12 plus years of experience in industrial economic development and sitting on these boards, I can say that this opportunity to bring these jobs to our city or county is one of the most real and promising opportunities to date.

I am not saying this because I am the owner, but because these will be full-time jobs for skilled craftsmen with no scheduled end date in sight. Unlike many of the more construction-oriented jobs that have come and gone in our community, I anticipate that these jobs won’t just last for 6-12 months. What leads me to believe this is the experience my company has had with similar contracts in the past which forced us to expand our manufacturing facility to Worthington where we have continued to grow and create jobs since 2009.

This is a real and present opportunity to create jobs in the Tri-State of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. I’m sure that the others with whom I have worked in economic development over the years would certainly agree. The Ironton/Lawrence County community is the only community being considered that I have felt passionately enough about to write such a public notice.

Community leaders, you can win these jobs for our community! I want to make sure that I give our town and our county every opportunity to “put their best foot forward”!


Robert Rhett Slagel is CEO, president and owner of DropBox Inc.