Economic Development Effort Takes New Approach

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The economic development game is changing in Southeast Ohio. There's a new manager in the dugout. And there's a new team taking the field.    

The new manager is John Molinaro and his real title is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth.

What is the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, you ask?

Sometimes referred to as APEG, it's a regional economic development organization that will serve 25 counties in Southeast Ohio.

It was created as part of the JobsOhio Network put together by Governor Kasich, "to lead Ohio's job-creation efforts by singularly focusing on attracting and retaining jobs."

Molinaro was hired by the Ohio Appalachian Business Council, a group of business leaders from the region.

Molinaro is described as "A recognized leader in growing the economies of rural areas" and he comes here from The Aspen Institute's Community Strategies Group, where he was the co-director.

He just started work with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth on July 1.

"I'm still in the getting up to speed process," he says.  "We're working on getting what I call the infrastructure…up and in place and running."

Molinaro has set up shop in the offices of the Foundation For Appalachia Ohio which is providing support staff for the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth.

"We have advertisements out right now for three project management positions that will work with the JobsOhio side and working through the business incubators in the region," he says.  "We have three more positions for field engineers to work with manufacturers."

APEG is made up of two divisions.

"We have two partnerships with the state.  One with JobsOhio and one through the Department of Development with the federal manufacturing extension program."

Molinaro says in the first year, JobsOhio is providing about $1.6 million to APEG. "That has to be matched in the first year," he says, with one dollar for every two that the state gives us. "The federal program is about a million dollars a year."

Molinaro says "The creation of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth as an economic development resource and partner on a regional scale is an amazing opportunity for Appalachian Ohio. What I think of us is the best partner and servant we can be to the other organizations in the region and as a forum for pulling together beyond one county."

Molinaro describes Manufacturing Extension as a service that works with existing manufacturers.