GALLIPOLIS — The Community Improvement Corporation of Gallia County approached the Gallia County Commissioners Thursday to discuss the potential of the county assisting with funding to hire an executive director for the CIC.
The CIC is an economic development agency consisting of area residents and business owners along with government officials with the aim of improving Gallia’s economic future.
CIC President Josh Bodimer previously approached the Gallipolis City Commission with a similar request last week.
“What the CIC is looking to do here, we’re not looking to do the same thing that the Gallia County Economic Office is doing,” said Bodimer. “We want to have a foot soldier for the county. (Gallia Economic Development Director Melissa Clark) we think is doing a great job but needs more foot soldiers. With all the things that are going on, we’ve got a lot of potential but we’re going to need some more foot soldiers.”
Bodimer said they had been “blessed” with good applicants for the position.
“We think the money that we’re asking for, you’d get a very large return on your investment. It would step up the economic development in the county to another level,” said Bodimer.
Among its listed goals to accomplish by 2022, the group would like to improve recreational facilities in the region, create a new community center, eliminate the drug problem in the area, partner more with O.O. McIntyre Park District, improve area assets and public infrastructure development, develop high speed internet throughout the county, and other goals. Bodimer noted the Gallia Economic Development Office was taking part in site certification activities for parts of the Dan Evans Industrial Park, which has often been connected with CIC development goals. The CIC had sold land to Ohio Valley Bank for its recent efforts to develop its project “OVB on the Square” as well as supported Gallia Engineer Brett Boothe in a hunt for federal grant dollars to create a smart corridor along US 35.
“I’m a person that understands investing for future payback,” said Gallia Commissioner David Smith. “I’m sure you’ve heard that the schools are being shortchanged (being funded less by the state), but also local government, especially local government. That being said you’re asking us for a $90,000 commitment (over a span of five years). Our budget is under a lot of stress. We’re going to pay somewhere around $600,000 for out of county prisoners this year. I don’t think anyone wants to tell our sheriff to not prosecute and investigate crime. “
The commissioners have cited that around a tenth of the county’s over $8 million general fund is being lost due to cuts from state funding and the loss of the MCO sales tax loss. Around 46 percent of its funding is dedicated to criminal justice funding.
Smith said he would like to invest more in the county’s economic future but was concerned with immediate funding needs as the general fund in the next few years would be facing big changes.
Bodimer said ideally the county, area villages and the CIC would contribute for the position together to attempt to improve the economic future of the area.
“We’ll have to have some time to talk about this and deliberate on it,” said Commissioner Brent Saunders.
Commissioners agreed that CIC’s goals for the community were much the same as theirs, however, budget concerns, state funding cuts to local government and increasing crime put the general fund in a difficult position.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.