APEG Prosperity Plan offers rare opportunity for region to work in concert

Over the last few weeks our regional partner organization, the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) has undertaken the task of drafting a plan for growth. Throughout the state, there are five regional economic development organizations who assist our individual cities and counties with their business assistance plans. In Ohio we have RGP, which represents the Toledo Area, Team NEO which represents the Cleveland area, REDI which assists the Cincinnati Region, Columbus 2020 which works in the Columbus metroplex, and APEG, which we exist in along with 20+ other counties. I know its a large service area, and that’s a conversation for another day, but in the meantime its good to understand that APEG is our singular voice in the state’s economic development programming.

Given the task of helping our county’s efforts, and also those in Pike, Lawrence, Belmont, Meigs, etc. the APEG team has worked with consultants to create a plan that will give voice to the struggles and opportunities in our region, and help build singular efforts in regard to area development. The APEG prosperity plan offer the opportunity for the first time in a long while to work in concert on economic growth initiatives. I haven’t been here long but I can tell you our efforts across the region are in the same mind, but are not organized and often work in opposition to our neighbors. Given the lack in resources and voice in the upper crusts of decision making entities, this hardly serves our interests.

When it comes to the future business climate of our state, Jobs Ohio, Team Neo, REDI, RGP, Columbus 2020, they will be well prepared. Those entities are resource and talent rich and have the ability to steer the ship in directions that can drive growth. Our region without a cohesive strategy and combined plan, will not allow us to be as prepared and will not give us opportunity to work in concert with the rest of the state. A developed plan that is specific to our region, but includes the larger aims of the state and focuses our efforts is critical to advancing our region. Its a complex problem, and if we attempt to shallowly provide platitudes without substance, there is disservice to our residents.

We at the Port are grateful to the APEG team for leading the way in this prosperity planning, seeking out input from all of our region, hearing the concerns from area businesses, learning the strategic benefits we are capitalizing on, and helping us better understand how to position our counties in the overall business growth ecosystem.

JobsOhio will have a plan, Columbus will have a plan, Cincinnati will have a plan, Toledo will have a plan. We should have already had one, but because of our fragmented nature and lack of consensus we failed to offer one. Our state is better when all of our counties are better, and because we are in this amazing changing time, it behooves us to be ahead of the changes as best we can. A regional prosperity plan helps us weather these changes because it affords us the opportunity to see if their plan meshes with ours. What a novel concept? Does the state plan jive with what we are doing? I don’t know that our region has ever been able to ask this question quite honestly.

This is why this current effort is critical. Not only are we difficult to serve, we are difficult to engage. A cohesive plan can offer us the ability to be better served by our state, help build a regional psyche when it comes to business attraction, and most importantly craft a singular voice that sees more of the JobsOhio funding return to our region, and more of our area businesses capitalizing on the great programming that is offered.