Changes coming in the future dominated the panel discussion and questions at the Annual Morrow County Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Cardinal Center in Marengo last week One theme was that advances in technology are “disrupting” and driving many of the changes in the way business and government operate in this decade.
“All industry is being disrupted by technology changes,” stated Columbus 20/20 President and CEO, Ken McDonald. Columbus 20/20 is a regional group of 11 counties to which Morrow County belongs. Its goals are for job creation, capital investment and increasing incomes to help businesses become more competitive and attract investment worldwide.
McDonald added that change is already here and one of the great needs is for more emphasis in education for the subjects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM.) McDonald has participated in STEM programs and appreciates that it has an interdisciplinary and applied approach to education.
Morrow County Commissioner, Tom Whiston said it is important to work toward having accessibility and efficiency with good communication through technology. He said that the county will continue to look for federal and state grants and funding.
Whiston said that projects such as the Chesterville sewer project aren’t glamourous. However, they are vital in making sure the county has adequate infrastructure to attract new business and manufacturing. He said that commissioners and county officials appreciate the opportunity to work with Columbus 20/20 to make sure infrastructure is in place so that Morrow County can be competitive with other communities in attracting business.
Whiston is concerned that counties are “held captive” by the state’s legislature since the counties have to implement what is required by the legislators. He recently traveled to Columbus to ask what counties are to do with the loss of Medicare managed funds this year. Morrow County will lose $500,000 in those funds from the state this year.
State Representative, Wes Goodman reported that he has been appointed to the Ohio House Ways and Means Committee. The Cardington native said he supports the governor’s proposal of moving the state to zero income tax with a hike in sin (alcohol and tobacco) and sales tax. He would also like to see more efficiency in tax collection.
Cornerstone Restaurant owner, John Gompf commented that the county needs to make sure the education opportunities in the county prepares people for the jobs that are here.
McDonald added that “training needs to be for the rest of your life.” He said that it’s the people and leaders in the county that are its main resources. “Listen to what businesses need and give it to them,” recommended McDonald.
Whiston said one of the top priorities for the counties is a Drug Task Force that is facing drug issues for enforcement, prevention and eradication of the problem of heroin addiction. Whiston said that 70 percent of court costs are from drugs such as heroin, meth and cocaine. Mental health issues also go along with the problem of drug addiction.
A second priority for the county is increasing efficiency as growth occurs. The county needs to be prepared to get jobs staying in the county – whether with present businesses or new small business. He stated that it’s also important to support and encourage agriculture. He would also like to see recreational opportunities like Rails to trails to keep young people in the community.
Andy Bower of Edward Jones and Auditor Pat Davies recognized John Gompf for his eleven years as Cornerstone Restaurant owner. They noted that the work of small businesses is very vital to Morrow County and its economy.
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