Partnership with JobsOhio supports 49 business expansions
By Terry Troy
While the major metropolitan areas across Ohio usually grab the lion’s share of business headlines, there is plenty of economic development across our entire state. The Ohio Southeast Economic Development Corporation in partnership with JobsOhio, recently announced that it invested more than $30 million across Southeast Ohio in 2020, supporting 49 business expansions and location across the region. Despite the challenges of the past year, businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the region creatively adapted and took advantage of market opportunities to expand and grow their businesses.
“The businesses we helped pledged to create 875 new jobs and invest over $382 million in fixed assets,” said Mike Jacoby, OhioSE president. “To support those projects, our organization helped secure $6.8 million of support from JobsOhio and $1,145,728 from the State of Ohio in assistance programs. When we add in COVID-19 response programs for cash-strapped businesses and speculative site and building development programs, we brought over $30 million to the region last year.”
One of these programs, the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant (JOIG), was created in 2020 as part of an initiative to provide financial support for eligible projects in designated distressed communities and/or for businesses owned by underrepresented populations across the state.
“JOIG’s are designed to help small companies in the JobsOhio targeted sectors undertake capital expansion projects that introduce new technologies, new products, or open new markets,” Jacoby said. “The average JOIG grant in the region supported the creation of 3.8 additional jobs. OhioSE embraced JOIG and was tied for first in the state among the six regions for the most JOIG projects last year. Eighteen of the 49 projects we supported in 2020 were supported with JobsOhio Inclusion Grant.”
To qualify for an Inclusion Grant, a company must be owned by an underrepresented population – which includes consideration of geographic location, race, ethnicity, gender, veterans and those with disabilities – or it must be located in a qualified distressed community as defined by the Economic Innovation Group. The grant may be put towards eligible costs including fixed asset investment in machinery and equipment, real estate investments and training costs.
“These funds have leveraged investment and jobs growth to many of our small businesses in southeastern Ohio,” said Taylor Stepp, OhioSE Project Manager. “With this tool, our companies can have additional access to capital, which can help supercharge their growth plans.”
Whether giving existing companies a place to grow or attracting new companies, having ready sites and buildings is critical to a community’s economic development effort.
“Our regional economic development strategic plan, identified the lack of ready sites and buildings as a priority, and as a region, we have advocated for new tools,” Jacoby said. “Fortunately, in the two years since the prosperity planning process was launched, we have gone from zero programs to support speculative site and building development to three programs.”
In 2020, nearly $9.5 million was awarded in the region through the JobsOhio and OhioSE Sites Initiative.
“The National Road Business Park in Muskingum County received just over a $3-million grant for infrastructure, the Bill Theisen Industrial Park in Athens County received just under $3 million for site improvements, and the Franklin Furnace to Southern Ohio Industrial District sewer project in Scioto and Lawrence counties received a $3.5 million grant,” said Jacoby.