API/APEG hold first annual meeting in Frankfort

CHILLICOTHE–Appalachian Partnership Inc. (API) and its subsidiary the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) held their firstannual meeting today, a luncheon at the Sunroom at the Brick in Frankfort, near Chillicothe.

The main purpose of the event was to roll out the Regional Economic Prosperity Plan, a plan that has been in process since January via 36 separate meetings with business leaders, stakeholders, partners, the public and more.

“We have come a long way in eight yearssince our founding, and we took a little time today to celebrate our accomplishments,” said API/APEG Chairman Mark James. “However, the board and I felt strongly that we needed a strategic plan for the region to guide our next stepsso that we can achieve economic parity with the rest of Ohio. We unveiled that plan today.”

The Prosperity Plan was developed for the 25-county region with the input of over 450 different people from all across the region. It includes 13 different strategies that fall into four categories: (1) organizing a voice for businesses in the region, (2)work force skills and recruitment, (3) developing more competitive assets for the region, such as broadband and business sites, and (4) economic development program enhancements.

At this inaugural meeting, the two organizations also reflected on their inception as a combined entity, as well as celebrating past and recent successes. API/APEG Board Chairman James, who is also an executive at American Electric Power, opened the meeting by recognizing board members, Jobs Ohio leadership, legislators and local elected officials who were in attendance – a crowd of approximately 130.

Awards were presented to partners, founding board members, benefactors and legislators. API, APEG and AGC (Appalachian Growth Capital, the region’s established loan fund and soon-to-be certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)) presented to the following people/organizations:

¯APEG Best Downtown Revitalization Effort: Chillicothe

¯APEG Best Real Estate Program: Lawrence Economic Development Corporation

¯APEG Best Support of Entrepreneurial Innovation: Ohio University Innovation Center

¯APEG Workforce Project, GKN Incumbent Worker Training: Gallia County Economic & Community Development

¯APEG Most Creative Project Funding, Jackson Meridian Site Redevelopment: JEDISO

¯AGC Benefactor Award: Jeffrey E. Smith (Ohio Valley Bank)

John Carey, director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia, provided the keynote address, highlighting his goals for the region moving forward. He also stressed the importance of collaboration and advocacy. “The RegionalProsperity Plan gives us a road map to advocate together for our region,” said Carey.

Another event was held in Cambridge on Tuesday with similar awards being presented, as the region is 32 (API) and 25 (APEG) counties in all. “This was a great way to recognize our partners across the state, where we have come from, what we have accomplished and what all we have yet to do if southeastern Ohio is ever going to catch up economically,” said Mike Jacoby, president of APEG.

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