Regional approach to development

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(Posted April 30, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Madison County hopes to benefit from a regional approach to economic development.

On April 27, the Madison County commissioners agreed to support the Columbus 2020 Foundation’s quest to establish an economic development district (EDD) for the Columbus region.

Columbus 2020 is a private, non-profit entity launched in 2010 with a mission to strengthen and diversify the economic base in Columbus and surrounding areas. The region encompasses 11 counties: Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Knox, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Morrow, Pickaway and Union. Madison County is a member of Columbus 2020 through the county’s community improvement corporation (CIC).

An EDD, as designated by the United States Economic Development Administration, can leverage the influence of a larger geographic area to not only attract businesses but also compete for federal economic development funding and incentives, said David Kell, director of Madison County’s CIC.

To apply for an EDD, a region must complete a comprehensive economic development strategy. Last fall, as part of creating that strategy, Columbus 2020 asked each county to submit a list of projects that would be beneficial to development in their specific areas.

Kell asked for input then put together Madison County’s list. Among the projects are several water and sewer improvements and extensions around the county, as well as extension of Eagleton Boulevard from Route 142 to Route 42.

Madison County Commissioner David Dhume said he supports the idea of a regional economic development district, but wants to be sure it doesn’t preclude the county from working with individual counties in and out of the region on development projects.

“I don’t mind being associated with central Ohio. I just don’t want to restrict our ability to work with adjoining counties,” Dhume said. He and Commissioner Mark Forrest specifically referenced the good working relationship Madison County has with Clark County.

Kell said such local partnerships should not be a problem.

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Regarding new business prospects in Madison County, Kell told the commis-sioners he has six solid leads on distribution, logistics, manufacturing and retail businesses looking to potentially locate in the county. He said he could not share details about the leads at this time.

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