Letter: Better jobs, better lives, a better county

Our efforts to promote economic development here in Morrow County are made with the goal of attracting higher-paying jobs with better benefits and increasing access to essential public services, all while safeguarding our core agriculture base and rural culture.

There are lots of different tools available for obtaining those critical outcomes. Many come with an alphabet soup of acronyms such as TIFs, JEDDs, and CRAs — all of which are various taxation techniques to encourage the creation of local jobs that improve the lives of our residents.

While those programs can prove tremendously helpful when used prudently, such as with the 400-plus jobs just created with the new Dollar Tree Distribution Center near Marengo, the foundation for a successful development program is based on supporting workforce development and improving the core infrastructure needed to support the type of development that we strive to obtain — those bringing better pay and benefits closer to home.

We have a great workforce here in Morrow County and our people are known for being problem solvers who want to work and to make good things happen. Look for ways we are working to assist our businesses make better use of the State of Ohio’s TechCred program that routinely awards companies up to $30,000 per grant cycle and $2,000 per employee to further build technical skills.

The most time consuming and expensive part of these development efforts are in making sure that we have the necessary infrastructure in place – better roads, expanded sanitary sewer, sufficient water supply, and necessary electric and natural gas supply — to support our existing companies, and to attract prospective new businesses.

We are fortunate to have great partners in those efforts with Consolidated Electric, ODOT, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, and One Columbus. They are partnering with us to establish the necessary studies for roadwork improvements at the Interstate 71 interchanges at State Routes 61 and 95.

But there is yet another critical piece of infrastructure that we must maintain, and indeed, greatly expand from what we currently are able to offer our residents: a full hospital with a 24/7 emergency room within the County and expanded healthcare services.

We are fortunate to be part of the Columbus Region — which is the only part of our State currently growing and not shrinking. And we are growing faster every day. But to keep that positive and beneficial growth taking place, we need to expand our healthcare offerings and not shrink them.

Plus, we want those better-paying medical jobs here in our own county. A recent economic development article noted that 13-of-the-top-18 hottest career choices expected over the next decade all relate to the medical field.

The Morrow County Commissioners and the Morrow County Hospital Board recently put aside our differences so that more public dollars can be spent on doctors and not attorneys. As part of that effort, the Morrow County Health Initiative Citizens Advisory Group has been formed to make recommendations about our hospital and about the availability of critical services needed by our community.

That’s why we support the efforts of the Hospital Advisory Group to publicly and transparently examine where our county-owned Hospital stands in terms of viability; and with an eye to creating more medical jobs as opposed to see further job losses in that important sector of our economy.

We’ll be praying for the Hospital Advisory Group as they take on this difficult, and potentially contentious task over the next several months. We ask that you do as well.

Morrow County Commissioners

Tom Whiston, Tim Abraham, Tim Siegfried