Help for small businesses is on the way in Clinton County

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

This news was contained in the monthly update 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 support network that provides free consulting services to new and existing businesses, focusing on small businesses and start-ups.

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

Additionally, in the last quarter of 2021, the SBDC assisted existing local businesses with approximately $3.8 million in refinancing and new financing, Evers added.

All of this represents “a lot of activity on the small business development side and a lot of success,” he told the commissioners.

Regarding a potential Polaris expansion project, Evers noted that an enterprise zone tax incentive for the expansion project was approved last week by the Wilmington City Council, with the final step consisting of presenting it to the Commissioners for final authorisation.

“We have not yet secured this project. There is competition with another state, but we are increasingly positive about our opportunity,” the Port Authority official said.

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

The Ohio Department of Development defines a brownfield as abandoned, unused, or underutilized 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 include a set aside of $1 million per county to be awarded through June 30, 2022. Evers expects applications to be filed with the state by the end of January.

One brownfield project would ultimately involve new construction after mediation takes over, and the other local brownfield project would create approximately 20 acres for economic development opportunities.

Regarding residential development efforts, Evers said he is talking with a few potential residential developers and will continue to work with Wilmington city officials on a residential incentive program.

Currently, the port is working with four prospects who would be new to the community if they chose to settle here. It is a mixture of aviation and logistics operations.

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

From this fourth perspective, he added that he and his colleagues felt good about Phase 1 of the process.

Conversations are underway, including with area employers, about how something like a ride-sharing or van-share-like program could start here, he said.

Next week, Port Authority officials will attend an annual air cargo show. One thing they will talk about during their stay, of course, is the Wilmington Air Park.

“I think it deserves a comment that right here we have the most important cargo airport in Ohio,” Evers said.

This sales pitch, if you will, will be directed at companies that serve or supply the air cargo and logistics industries, he said, with an additional point that they should consider having a presence in the Clinton County.

Contact Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.


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