Project SOAR among efforts to create jobs and keep kids from taking flight

Published: Apr. 9, 2019 at 5:35 PM EDT
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There are two major efforts to bring business and jobs to the area, trying to get talent to stay close to home.

One is called Project SOAR. It’s a new industrial park in Scioto County near the Portsmouth Airport, an acronym called the Southern Ohio Aeronautical Regional Business Park.

The other is the South Shore Industrial Park across the river in Greenup County, Kentucky.

Project SOAR is the culmination of years of work for officials in Scioto County. It’s 271 acres of mixed use development around the Portsmouth Airport, right off the new Portsmouth bypass south of Minford.

Flags on stakes flapped in the breeze Tuesday, marking out the new road.

"If you don't have a site to sell, you're not going to bring in industry or a business here,” said Rob Horton, director of the Scioto County Economic Development Office. “If it's not ready to build on, they're not going to wait."

Horton said two opportunities have already been lost because it's not far enough along.

But one project is already locked in. The Scioto County Career and Technical Center is bringing an aviation school to train technicians.

"When they train here, they can go into a $70,000-plus job," Horton said.

Horton said you need a site, infrastructure and a workforce.

"What we've done here is we've created all three in one spot."

There are 145 acres inside the fence of the airport, meaning it's limited to aviation-related opportunities.

The remaining 126 acres are open to anything.

It's the county's third industrial park. The other two are along U.S. 23. But one is completely full. The other is near capacity.

Horton hopes it's what helps keep kids from leaving and finding jobs and opportunities elsewhere.

“You start putting industry out here and create jobs," Horton said. "A lot of them, their kids are leaving because there's nowhere for them to go. We've got to stop that. That's the only way you're going to stop it. You create the job and our kids have a chance to stay home."

Horton hopes to start building the access road in July and be done by October.

Crews are expected to break ground on the new tech center this summer and have it open by next year.

The South Shore Industrial Park is the other area newly in the works.

This one is privately owned by Northeast Kentucky Development.

There are 390 acres in South Shore in Greenup County. It's divided into 11 lots with 15 to 35 acres with the targeted industries of aerospace, industrial and automotive.

Managing Director Sam Howard said it's ready to go with river port and railroad access, as well as a dedicated power line from AEP.

The land is a brownfield which means it sits on reclaimed land from an old chemical plant.

Howard said the entire area is ripe because industrial parks in bigger cities like Lexington, Columbus and Cincinnati are filling up and there’s not much land available.