The Clinton County Port Authority was formed in 2004. Faced with more unknown than known, the Clinton County Port Authority Board of Directors completed 14 months of negotiations to accept the donation of the Wilmington Air Park, taking ownership on June 2, 2010.
The first order of business was to ensure the viability of the Wilmington Air Park. The Board of Directors worked diligently to support the existing Air Park businesses and employees by maintaining the Air Park and airport infrastructure.
Expanding the role of the Port Authority beyond the Air Park fences began in short order. The Port Authority secured a grant from the US Economic Development Agency, with matching funds from the State of Ohio, to create a local Revolving Loan Fund. Two local small businesses were able to expand operations because of investments financed through those local revolving loans. Both businesses continue to operate successfully in our community.
Marketing the Wilmington Air Park as a location of choice and a diversified employment center became a top priority. That activity included sharing the story of the assets of our entire community – Wilmington and Clinton County – throughout the region, the state, and beyond.
Leveraging resources and resource partners, including local community leadership, elected leaders in the Ohio General Assembly, Congress, and the U.S. Senate – along with collaboration with entities such as the Dayton Development Coalition, JobsOhio, the Ohio Economic Development Association – the Port Authority is proud to have played a role in securing resources and opportunities for our community.
The Port Authority has worked with these groups and others, to change the conversation and perception of our community – and shine a brighter light on the exceptional assets, opportunities, educational institutions, and partnerships that make our community unique and special.
This is an effort that is ongoing. Eight years later, the Port Authority actively participates in county-wide economic development activities. Collaborating with the City of Wilmington, the Board of County Commissioners, the Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Wilmington, Regional Planning, the Visitor’s Bureau and more, the Port Authority is part of a group working to maximize economic development resources, programs, and opportunities to support growth in all areas and all sectors of our community’s economy.
The legal structure of the Port Authority affords it more latitude to pursue a variety of economic development options and opportunities. One such tool is “conduit financing,” which was used to facilitate construction of a new hangar at the Air Park, as well as reinvestment in the Wilmington High School football stadium. The new hangar enabled AMES to continue to grow its business and expand its services. The renovated stadium benefits not only the school, but the whole community.
Working with the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, the Port Authority manages a $200,000 Brownfields Assessment grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. To date, over 10 projects have received funding for environmental assessments. Once assessed, properties can be more easily marketed and/or remediated, to facilitate redevelopment and reuse.
Similarly, the Port Authority is engaged in another joint project with the Regional Planning Commission – addressing blight by supporting Land Bank mortgages. The program allows the Land Bank to access state funds designated to clean up deteriorated properties throughout our community.
The Port Authority’s focus on enhancing opportunities and awareness of our community assets includes participating in a state-wide a Site Certification program. The Port Authority is shepherding two county development sites thorough the process toward Site Authentication – a process that enhances the attractiveness of these sites to consultants and prospective businesses.
Eight years ago, seven dedicated volunteers stepped up to own and manage a huge, complicated and needy asset. They worked to quickly hire staff, understand an airport and create a network within, and beyond, the community. Today, a set of seven different dedicated volunteers continues that work – and have expanded the Clinton County Port Authority’s efforts – on behalf of our entire community.