The Clinton County Port Authority knew our 10th year of owning the Wilmington Air Park was going to be a big year. We had a lot to anticipate and celebrate. We knew there would be surprises.
We did not, however, anticipate the surprises – good and otherwise — the year provided.
Leveraging several months of planning, and additional time and talent, the Clinton County Port Authority staff launched several initiatives of County-wide Economic Development Program, a partnership between the Port Authority and the City of Wilmington, the Clinton County Commissioners, the Community Improvement Corporation of Wilmington (CIC), and the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
While many businesses evolved to Work-From-Home, the Port Authority offices at the Wilmington Air Park remained open and ready to support businesses county-wide. COVID 19 presented challenges to traditional meetings, retention and expansion site visits and general operations.
Conversely, it offered opportunities to collaborate on projects and re-imagine how to do the things necessary to continue to move the County toward economic growth.
Working with the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, the City, several County agencies, Regional Planning and Main Street, the Port Authority gathered, shared and distributed information, resources and contacts to help local businesses.
This effort included direct (virtual) outreach to over 50 Clinton County businesses, to see if assistance was needed and to “check in” with our community’s employers.
The collaboration also resulted in development of a resource newsletter, printed and mailed county-wide to ensure every home in the county had access to COVID-19 information and service contacts.
The Port Authority contracted with the Ohio SBDC at Miami University Regionals, to bring a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) counselor on-site in Clinton County.
The arrival of this resource coincided with the roll out of a myriad of programs to help small businesses navigate the restricted environment that became the “new normal” for much of 2020. Working with our local economic development partners and the SBDC, we were able to share this information and direct businesses to these pandemic-related resources.
Partnering with the County, the Port Authority managed federal aid for COVID relief. It initiated an Emergency Loan Fund to support businesses that needed help while finances were tight, and it continued to collaborate on outreach to businesses. Small Business Toolkits, provided by JobsOhio, were distributed to over 100 businesses throughout the county.
Leveraging its connections, the Port Authority was able to support countywide infrastructure projects, securing funding and continuing to raise awareness of county needs. Its Priority Development Advocacy Committee (PDAC) submissions again reached “priority” level, enabling continued discussions with elected officials about the future and growth of Clinton County.
The year marked the one-year anniversary of air cargo operations returning to the Wilmington Air Park and saw the airport become the highest volume cargo airport in Ohio (again) and rise to 31st in the nation.
Based on both metrics and popular vote, the Ohio Business Magazine’s “Best Cargo Airport in Ohio for 2020” and “Best Workplace in Ohio” plaques hang on the wall in Port Authority’s office.
At the Wilmington Air Park, infrastructure work continued. Replacement of navigational signs for runway 22R/4L was completed, upgrading them to LED. Concrete panels were repaired and replaced on the ramps, taxiways and runway. Crack-sealing was completed in areas on ramps and runways. Enhancements and improvements were added to the Instrument Landing System (ILS).
This infrastructure work was accomplished with investments from the State of Ohio grant funds, ODOT Grant funds and Port Authority funds. The Port Authority was able to leverage its funds to secure over $300,000 in state grant funds. Additional equipment, necessary to keep the airport operational 24/7 during winter weather events, was purchased. These investments in infrastructure and operational assets totaled over $1 million.
Earlier this year, the Clinton County Port Authority, along with its partners throughout the county, celebrated Economic Development Week. This international effort draws attention to the impact and value of comprehensive economic development activity.
The Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, Clinton County Regional Planning, the City of Wilmington, Main Street Wilmington, the Clinton County Convention and Visitors Bureau and along with the County, the CIC and the SBDC all presented at the May Economic Alliance meeting.
We’re proud to partner with these organizations, to help enhance our community.
A new website, focused exclusively on economic development efforts and opportunities, was launched by the Port Authority this year. ChooseClintonCountyOH.org premiered in the spring and is a deep resource for site selectors, for businesses interested in Clinton County, and for our local business community.
We are proud of all that has been accomplished in this most challenging year.
The groundwork has been laid for much more on the horizon, and we believe this next year will truly demonstrate what a community looks like Recovered and Moving Forward.