In this May 2 file photo, the bridge for the railroad spur connecting the Van Wert Super Site and the railway is under construction. (TB File Photo)
BY LINDSAY MCCOY
Times Bulletin News Writer
VAN WERT - Van Wert County Commissioners met with Van Wert County Economic Development Director Cindy Leis Tuesday afternoon for an update on the work of the economic development department as well as the status of the Mega Site.As part of Jobs Ohio, Van Wert has been implementing the Ohio Business Retention and Expansion Program (BR&E), a program that not all counties in the area put to use. This program provides the resources, training, and tools to develop the knowledge of a community to help understand its own economy by monitoring regional and local activity to develop future action and planning.
OSU Extension Program Coordinator Darlene Myers, with the correspondence of Leis, is hoping to schedule at least 10 BR&E visits to local businesses in the month of June and will continue this process into July. Myers is now making schedules as to who will attend each meeting as only a select few will be included in each visit.
"We want people sitting around the table who can make an impact," said Leis. "Each visit will now contain a smaller, core group. Currently, 30 businesses have been identified to participate in this program." Leis is hopeful the program can be concluded in August and plans to share information and findings about each business at the annual meeting.
Not only does a county learn about itself from the BR&E visits, but the Economic Development budget also receives $250 per visit from Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) if the BR&E surveys and databases are used to compile the information. The Economic Development budget has the opportunity to grow and expand by $5,000 if these visits continue in the upcoming months.
The Mega Site is still progressing on schedule, and from the commissioner's recent visit to the site it looks as if tracks could now be laid from the railway. Leis noted the biggest move will be breaking the railway across U.S. Rt. 127.
Breaking across U.S. Rt 127 may not be as extensive as it sounds as Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger believes a section of the road can be cut out and one large track put in its place.
Leis also reported that CIC and AEP have approved the $5,000 grant Van Wert Economic Development received last year from AEP be used for advertising on the existing billboard near Marsh Rd.
Lamar Advertising will be installing the advertisement on the top half of both sides of the billboard. A design for the advertisement has not yet been created. The back side of the sign, which can be seen driving in the westbound lane will now permanently belong to the ,Economic Development Department. After 12 months, if no interest is shown for the other side, it will be given to the Economic Development as a public relations gift.