Q2 2020 Prosperity Plan Update

COVID may have slowed a lot of things down but work on our Regional Economic Prosperity Plan continues. With representatives across the region working on thirteen categories of tasks, we remain committed to the prosperity of the twenty-five counties in the OhioSE region. Below is an overview from the Q2 Team Lead Call that updates group members on the work of each initiative.

Advocating for the Region

  • Appalachian Partnership Inc. (API) is joining with the Mayor’s Partnership to advocate for COVID-related support for local units of governments.
  • Ohio Rural Development Alliance (ORDA) is taking the lead on Broadband advocacy.
  • ORDA met with Rep. Rick Carfagna (sponsor of HB 13) and is working to ensure the HB language appropriately addresses the needs of rural Ohio.
  • Buckeye Hills and API are advocating with our Congressional Delegation to address incumbent carriers’ attempts to exclude more than 1000 square miles of unserved or underserved territory from the upcoming FCC auction.

Upskilling Employees

  • Most Incumbent Worker Training funding through ODJFS is likely to take a lower priority post-COVID as available funds are focused on getting laid-off workers back to work.
    • ODJFS is considering making Incumbent Worker Training funding available to Workforce Development Agencies (WDAs) that have an Incumbent Worker Training Policy but do not have the resources to adequately fund their effort.
    • Most local OhioMeansJobs regions have now added Incumbent Worker Upskilling to their operation plans and are rolling out services supported with surplus Adult/Dislocated Worker funds.
  • Tech Cred: Applications are generally being taken every other month until the funding is exhausted. The Tech Cred staff have been working more closely with local OMJ staff to be sure all businesses are supported and contacted, especially if they have not been awarded TechCred funding.

Employer Roundtables

  • Ross County has expressed interest in launching an employer roundtable 
  • Gallia-Jackson County and Highland-Clinton-Fayette roundtables are now actively engaged groups. 
  • The Employer Roundtable committee continues to look for new options to spur engagement and spread best practices throughout the region.

Business Engagement with Career Awareness (BECA)

  • The BECA work group began initial data collection from the following contacts: 
    • Sandy Doudna, Noble County
    • Hannah Kilbride, Project Rise
    • Amy Perrin, Meigs County Career Compact (MC3)
    • Bryn Stepp, Lt. Gov Regional Rep
    • Katie Good, Tech Prep Director
    • Tasha Werry, BB2C
  • They also hired a Regional Expansion Coordinator (REC) through a revised grant opportunity with the Ohio Valley Educational Service Center that serves seven eastern counties. Business and school engagement has begun. This is a pilot position that will inform the work of future RECs. There is potential for grant and small contract opportunities for additional Regional Expansion Coordinators, data collection, and research.

Talent Recruitment to the Region

  • A Quality of Life and business vibrancy video for the region is now complete. View it here. OhioSE encourages employers to leverage this video any way they choose to showcase the beauty and amazing spaces throughout southern and eastern Ohio.
  • HR best practices seminars have been stalled by the pandemic. 

Broadband

  • Broadband Advocacy continues to advance thanks to Tom Reid (Reid Consulting), Bret Allphin and Misty Crosby (Buckeye Hills Regional Council), Gwynn Stewart (Noble County) and others on the Broadband Advocacy committee. Tom gave a thorough and complete report-out at the meeting and the group has established a webpage to keep others up-to-date on broadband advocacy throughout SE Ohio. Learn more here: https://buckeyehills.org/broadband/

Site & Spec Building Development

  • $2.8 million was awarded to Athens County EDC for the Bill Theisen Industrial Park by JobsOhio as part of the OhioSE Sites Initiative. Two spec buildings planned.
  • A second grant of $3.1 million was awarded to the Zanesville Muskingum Port Authority for the National Road Business Park the week following this meeting.
  • OhioSE, through JobsOhio, hopes to fund a few more site developments through this Sites Initiative. 
  • JobsOhio’s Ohio Sites Inventory Program (OSIP) was unveiled last month in the OhioSE region. It includes $50 million a year for five years from JobsOhio. It can fund site development and spec buildings and can combine with the Rural Industrial Park Loan (RIPL). Final program guidelines and a program launch are planned for this month.

Business Financing Gaps

The following action steps have been taken by team members of the Business Financing Gaps group:

  • Adding to Team Membership: COVID19 has shifted the focus of this goal and will carry throughout 2020. The immediate goal became reacting to immediate cash flow needs to keep businesses afloat. There has been a coordinated effort among all of the economic development partners to support businesses as much as possible with federal and state programs as they are available
  • Inventory Loan and Equity Resources: COVID19 has created an environment where federal and state agencies have offered resources such as financial and technical assistance. The Inventory (lender) horizon has changed and the need of constant communication is important.
  • Needs Assessment/GAP Identification:  COVID19 has brought this action item to the top of the list. Bi-weekly conference call allows for all of the partners to discuss current support opportunities that change regularly.
  • Fill GAP’s: As in the needs assessment/GAP identification, this action item has gained in importance with business owner discussions. Coordinating federal and state support programs with business owners is a daily priority
  • Establish Certificate Program for Business Owners: Still very important but the COVID19 environment has created a priority to keep businesses open in the short term. Plan to elevate this action item once the emergency environment has dissipated. 
  • Leverage Local Investors: This has become VERY important but for different reasons: rental assistance programs and businesses cash flow programs are examples of local investor programs.
  • Co-ordinate Existing and New Efforts: the Bi-weekly COVID call among the economic development partners supports this action item
  • Measure, Document, and Publicize Results: Tracking results thru the CARES Act programs and sharing success stories on COVID calla has become the method of communication in the current environment.

Focused Existing Business Growth (Business Retention & Expansion or BRE)

  • 65 BREs have taken place year-to-date
  • The JobsOhio-OhioSE team now has a portal for LEDOs to upload BREs
  • Over 170 COVID outreaches to companies have occurred in the last two months

Targeted Business Attraction

  • OhioSE attended Site Selector’s Guild in Atlanta in early March, but all other trade shows have been cancelled through third quarter.
  • Targeted outreach calls continue as OhioSE has increased volume and is connecting with more prospective projects. Three current lead generation contracts exist.
  • Region is competing for three more attraction projects and have finalist locations going through due diligence and site visits.

Website Enhancements

  • The Ohio Southeast brand rollout is now complete and the new website launched during last week of May
  • Two new videos were also released at launch, a Quality of Place video and and one that details the Rebrand/Website Launch
  • The #WeAreOhioSE campaign is kicking off on the website and Instagram, featuring the people and places of the OhioSE region.

Community Technical Assistance

  • A survey has been prepared and was sent to regional partners (mayors, county commissioners and local economic development professionals) in mid-May.
  • Local Development Districts helped by distributing to their lists as well.
  • Amista Naylor Lipot of Voinovich School replaced Jen Simon on the committee; Jen relocated to Washington DC to work for the ARC.

The next meeting takes place mid-August.

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