Columbus, OH – January 14, 2008 – Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher today announced that $1,150,000 in economic development and roadwork development grants have been awarded to aid in the growth of businesses and the creation and retention of jobs in Ohio. The grants, administered by the Ohio Department of Development, were approved today by the State Controlling Board and are expected to create 405 positions and retain 2,367 jobs for Ohioans.
“Targeting our resources to advance Ohio and support economic development will continue to be a priority for Governor Strickland and me in 2008,” said Lt. Governor Fisher, who also serves as Director of the Ohio Department of Development. “We look forward to securing these investments in Cincinnati, North Canton, and Akron in 2008 and supporting many others across the State that that will bring new jobs for Ohioans.”
FirstGroup America, Inc. (FirstGroup) , located in Cincinnati (Hamilton County), will receive a $150,000 Rapid Outreach Grant for costs associated with the acquisition of machinery and equipment to support the company’s expansion in Cincinnati. FirstGroup and related entities in North America provide school bus transportation, public transit, inter-city bus transportation, and vehicle fleet maintenance services. FirstGroup America was established in 1999 and has total employment in North America of approximately 98,000. FirstGroup plc, the corporate parent based in the U.K., has approximately 135,000 employees worldwide. FirstGroup proposes to invest in leasehold improvements and information technology equipment. FirstGroup has recently completed a significant acquisition and anticipates leasing approximately 75,000 square feet of space at a facility that will be used as the company’s U.S. headquarters. The machinery and equipment to be purchased includes a new information technology switch, video conferencing technology equipment, and related equipment. Ohio is in competition with Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky for this more-than-$1.5 million project, which is expected to create 135 positions and retain 140 jobs within the first three years of the project’s initial operations.
The City of North Canton (Stark County) will receive a $350,000 Roadwork Development Grant to complete public roadwork improvements in support of a new research park in North Canton. The McKinley Development Company is developing a new smart office research park to be called the Waterside Center Compact Research Smart Park to be located near the intersection of South Main and Mississippi streets. McKinley will construct seven buildings containing approximately 66,800 square feet of smart office space on half of the site and the remaining land will consist of trees, a pond, streams, and walking trails. The site is expected to attract high tech businesses and the City will market the buildings to attract investors. The City of North Canton will construct 925 lineal feet of roadway near the intersection in support of the project. The roadwork to be completed includes engineering, excavation, grading, base, pavement, construction of utilities within the road’s right-of-way, and related construction. The City estimates that when the property is complete, it will support 120 new high-paying jobs.
The City of Akron (Summit County) will receive a $650,000 Roadwork Development Grant to complete public roadwork improvements in support of FirstEnergy Corporation’s (FirstEnergy) expansion. FirstEnergy is a diversified energy company that is headquartered in Akron and is involved in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity, as well as energy management and other energy-related services. The company’s seven electrical utility operating companies comprise the nation’s fifth-largest investor-owned electric system. FirstEnergy has 13,948 megawatts of generating capacity and services 4.5 million customers in its 36,100 square-mile service area in New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The company proposes to expand operations in Akron with the consolidation of several smaller facilities. In support of the project, the City of Akron will reconstruct a portion of White Pond Drive from Mull Avenue to Frank Boulevard to accommodate increased traffic flow that will result from the new facility. Improvements will include: resurfacing, widening the road with additional turn lanes, installation of a water main and storm sewers, and the addition of traffic signals. This more-than-$28 million project is expected to create 150 positions and retain 2,227 jobs within the first three years of the project’s initial operations.
The Rapid Outreach Grant (412) is a grant program to assist companies and communities that are creating or retaining jobs in Ohio. The Roadwork Development Account (629) provides grant assistance to communities for highway and road projects related to job creation and retention. The 629 Program is funded with gas tax dollars and is restricted to public road projects only.