Sustaining Economic Growth in Southeast Ohio

In the ever-evolving economic landscape of 2023, Ohio stood out as a beacon of resilience, innovation, and strategic growth, ranking #2 in the U.S. for announced deals. This year, JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation, met the challenges head-on and achieved remarkable economic and community development milestones.

JobsOhio’s 2023 journey has created sustainable job opportunities and fostered prosperity in Ohio’s cities and towns. JobsOhio has done this by acting as a trusted partner who keeps promises on the business expansion journey and beyond.

This year’s achievements highlight the power of partnerships and the impact of working together. With a focus on innovation, integrity, and value for all Ohioans, and alongside the JobsOhio Network, JobsOhio has completed approximately 458 projects statewide, each a story of collaboration and shared vision. These projects will create 16,312 new jobs and generate more than $1 billion in new payroll, reflecting the quality and dignity of work in Ohio.

As the regional JobsOhio network partner, Ohio Southeast Economic Development (OhioSE) also experienced a year of growth, supporting 38 business expansion and attraction projects across the region.

A woman and a man stand next to a piece of metal cabinetry in a warehouse

“The businesses we helped pledged to create 865 new jobs and invest over $233 million in fixed assets,” said Katy Farber, OhioSE vice president. “To support those projects, our organization helped secure $5.2M+ of support from JobsOhio and $620k+ from the State of Ohio in assistance programs.”

“Further, the OhioSE project team and local economic development professionals partnered to increase business retention and expansion (BRE) visits. Together, we completed 357 company meetings,” said Farber. “These visits are critical to finding opportunities to help our companies grow.”

OhioSE is a non-profit regional economic development organization and the JobsOhio regional network partner covering the 25 counties of southern and eastern Ohio. JobsOhio is the private nonprofit corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention and expansion efforts. OhioSE helps companies access JobsOhio programs to spark new investment and job creation.

Since its inception in 2011, OhioSE has built a strong team of 12 dedicated professionals, developed a regional brand, supported over 418 projects that have or will create over 12,000 jobs, invested over  $46 million of JobsOhio funds in speculative site and build development and redevelopment projects, and helped to lay a foundation for future business growth in the region.

“As part of a broader regional team of economic development partnerships, we extend our sincere appreciation to all of our partners working to make our region economically stronger,” said Farber. “Economic development is a team effort. We are at our best when we work together at state, regional, and local levels.”

The JobsOhio model under the leadership of the DeWine-Husted Administration and President J.P Nauseef is not only capitalizing and winning corporate project opportunities in the top ten sectors that drive Ohio’s economy, the model is also building for an even better and stronger future economy. JobsOhio’s strategic investments in innovation districts, fast-growth company funding through a growth capital fund, talent development programs, support for transformational downtown mixed-use property redevelopment, targeted assistance to small businesses in distressed areas or with disadvantaged ownership and investments to leverage speculative site and building development will pay big dividends for Ohio.

A drone image of a large metal building newly constructed on a site next to a river

Here in southern and eastern Ohio, OhioSE has partnered with JobsOhio and others to lay a foundation for sustained growth. Below is a summary of activities beyond the corporate expansion and new location projects mentioned above. In 2023, OhioSE:

  • Assisted 22 small businesses in distressed areas or with disadvantaged owners with expansions through the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant program. These grants accelerate the growth of small businesses, and the businesses have outperformed expectations. (These are included in the 42 projects.)
  • Assisted Hillsboro and Athens with JobsOhio Vibrant Communities grants for transformational downtown redevelopment projects, with additional projects in the pipeline.
  • Worked with JobsOhio and three developers to obtain Ohio Site Inventory Program (OSIP) support for three spec buildings ranging in size from 30,000 to 200,000 square feet.
  • Partnered with our local economic development offices to identify and evaluate potential new sites through the SitOhio program and large sites initiative.
  • Supported due diligence studies and preliminary site concept plans and engineering plans for sites throughout the region through the OhioSE Site Readiness and Special Purpose grants.
  • Submitted properties, data, and hosted company visits for the most active corporate site selection year in our history.
  • Conducted free training for local elected officials and board members on economic development tools and strategies and provided short-term project planning consulting to Gallia County through a contract with expert attorneys at Bricker Graydon.
  • Held free worker recruitment webinars and advised companies on strategies to find and retain workers.
  • Partnered with the Greater Ohio Workforce Board, Building Bridges 2 Careers, and Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership to submit a $500,000 Phase 1 EDA Recompete Strategy application and a Phase 2 Implementation application. The application focused on increasing the number of prime-age (25-55) individuals participating in the workforce. Key tactics identified are site development, childcare, transportation, and Career Awareness programs. 
  • Worked with ACG procured planner Burgess & Niple to conduct due diligence studies and complete preliminary engineering plans for five large sites, each greater than 500 acres. Studies include Phase I environmental, wetlands, endangered species, geotechnical, and cultural resources; the preliminary engineering involves understanding grading, utility extensions, and prep work for a barge dock permit. 

“Our collaborative work with local economic development professionals made 2023 an impactful year,” said Farber. “Not only were we able to support growing companies with incentives, but we continued to develop strong relationships with our existing companies throughout the region and support their everyday needs for workforce and other operational issues.”

“Add to this the substantial work that has been done to develop ready sites and industrial buildings and we have a year of accomplishment that continues to move the OhioSE region forward. We look forward to 2024 and the continued growth in our region.” 

While the region continues to face challenges, the team at OhioSE has been hard at work equipping regional businesses and local economic development organizations with the resources and tools they need to thrive.

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Ohio Southeast Economic Development (OhioSE) is the JobsOhio Network Partner for southern, eastern, and southeastern Ohio, providing economic development work and resources in 25 rural counties; they are the newest and geographically the largest of the six regions across the state. OhioSE partners closely with regional development districts, local economic development offices, state agencies, and other entities to expand, retain, and attract businesses in the counties they serve.