State Rep. Andy Thompson Co-Chairs Caucus on Appalachian Affairs

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"To foster quality education, job creation and economic development in the region."

This is the primary focus of the Caucus on Appalachian Affairs, according to State Representative Andy Thompson of Marietta, who was recently selected to co-chair the new Caucus.
"One of the most exciting things we have going on is this shale oil development, and it's bring a lot of economic activity, it's bringing a lot of big economic players into our region and so that's just one of the issues we're talking about we certainly have issues of job creation and poverty to deal with.  They're affairs that certainly affect our part of the state in a way that they don't affect other regions. So, this caucus is designed to try to call attention to these issues to bring together the decision makers, to make sure Appalachian Ohio has the attention that it deserves relative to the other corners of the state that are more populous and often get more attention just by virtue of that status," said Thompson.
Representative Thompson hopes the commitee "will provide a stronger voice for Southeast Ohio" at the Statehouse. 
"I believe there are more than a dozen members right now. I believe we have clout because we have some folks who have been there for a while, we also have some new members who are very talented and capable, and so my role as the co-chair, I have Lou Gentile who is from the Steubenville area who is sharing that responsibility with me, but we're going to take a creative approach.  We're going to see what we can do to, as I said, highlight, of course we have oil and gas, we also have some infrastructure issues that we have to address to support that industry.  One of the things is rail.  One of the possibilities we have for our part of the state is a cracker plan, which would be to take  some of the fuels that are coming out of the utica shale, separate them and refine them and process them. And that we think will ignite a kind of come back of the chemical industry here as well and that will mean a lot of good jobs for our part of the state. Again, infrastructure, workforce development, economic development and then just making sure there's nothing that we failed to address that makes this economic development possible," said Thompson.
Thompson says the group "will meet periodically to discuss the goals and needs of the area." "Appalachian Ohio has unique challenges", he says, "but also unique strengths with which to address those challenges."
Thompson is a Republican, who represents the 93rd House District.  The other co-chair of the Caucus on Appalachian Affairs – State Representative Lou Gentile of Steubenville – is a Democrat.
Thompson says the committee, "will be committed to actively listening to and working with the citizens of Southeast Ohio" and he invites those with ideas or suggestions to contact his office.