Small business assistance is afoot in Clinton County

WILMINGTON — Since December, three people have begun working with advisors from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to establish start-up businesses in Clinton County.

That news was contained in the monthly update that county commissioners receive on economic development.

Since 2020, Ohio’s SBDC program has partnered with the Clinton County Port Authority, which leads economic development efforts in the county. The SBDC is a small business assistance network that provides no-cost consulting services to new and existing businesses, focusing on small and start-up businesses.

Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers also reported this week that three existing local businesses which the SBDC has been working with have decided to expand operations and SBDC advisors are now working with each of those businesses on strategies.

In addition, during the last quarter of 2021 the SBDC assisted existing local businesses on about $3.8 million in refinancing and new financing, Evers added.

It all amounts to an “awful lot of activity on the small business development side, and a lot of success,” he told commissioners.

Regarding a prospective expansion project by Polaris, Evers noted an Enterprise Zone tax incentive for the expansion project was approved last week by Wilmington City Council, with the final step of bringing it to the commissioners for final authorization.

“We have not yet secured that project. There’s competition with another state, but we feel increasingly positive about our opportunity,” said the Port Authority official.

Evers reported the Port has identified and is working actively on two projects for Ohio’s new brownfield site remediation program. This program is designed to provide grants for the remediation of brownfield sites to clean up the sites and prepare them for future economic development.

The Ohio Department of Development defines a brownfield as an abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial, commercial, or institutional property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by known or potential releases of hazardous substances or petroleum.

Funds available in the program provide for a $1 million set-aside per county that will be awarded until June 30, 2022. Evers anticipates applications being filed with the state by the end of January.

One brownfield project would ultimately involve new construction after the mediation is taken care of, and the other local brownfield project would newly create about 20 acres for economic development opportunities.

Concerning residential development efforts, Evers said he’s talking with a couple potential residential developers, and will continue to work with City of Wilmington officials on a residential incentive program.

Currently the Port is working with four business prospects that would be new to the community if they choose to locate here. They’re a mix of aviation-related and logistics operations.

“We expect to know more on three of the four by the end of next month [February]. We’re making substantial progress on the fourth prospect, which would be the largest of the four,” said Evers.

Of that fourth prospect, he added he and his colleagues feel good about it in Phase 1 of the process.

Conversations are ongoing, including with area employers, about how something like a ride-share or a van-share type program could get started here, he said.

Next week Port Authority officials will go to an annual air cargo show. One thing they’ll talk about while there, of course, is the Wilmington Air Park.

“I think it merits comment that, right here, we have Ohio’s highest-volume cargo airport,” said Evers.

That sales pitch, if you will, will be made to companies that serve or supply the air cargo and logistics sectors, he said, with an added point that they should consider having a presence in Clinton County.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Evers File photo


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