Buckeye Hills Celebrates Southeast Ohio’s Assets During Economic Development Week

Jul 18, 2023 | News, Newsletter

Drew Tanner
Buckeye Hills Regional Council

Buckeye Hills Regional Council recently celebrated Economic Development Week from May 8 to May 12, 2023. This annual event, initiated by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), acknowledges the significant contributions made by professional economic developers in creating vibrant and livable communities.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council takes an asset-based approach to economic development in its work with communities across eight counties in Southeast Ohio: These counties possess various strengths, including historical landmarks, picturesque outdoor landscapes, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit. The council highlighted a few examples of the many assets nurtured in partnership with local stakeholders.

Historic Harmar Bridge
Buckeye Hills worked with engineering firm American StructurePoint to create the Harmar Bridge Adaptive Reuse Study and Design Concepts. This study provides alternative design options for the future reuse of the historic Harmar Bridge that connects Harmar with downtown Marietta over the Muskingum River. The public was invited to provide feedback on the preferred design, after which grant opportunities will be pursued to cover engineering and construction costs.

Downtown Revitalization Workshops
Buckeye Hills partnered with Designing Local to host workshops dedicated to downtown revitalization and placemaking in 2022. These workshops focused on topics including façade improvements, wayfinding and interpretive signage, streetscapes and lighting, public art and garden spaces, tourism, and downtown branding. The council also collaborated with Designing Local to create a guidebook for future downtown revitalization efforts, which is available upon request at buckeyehills.org/downtown-revitalization.

Unlocking the Potential of Outdoor Recreation
The Buckeye Hills region is rich in natural spaces and outdoor recreation opportunities. With seven state forests, eight state parks, and Ohio’s only national forest, Wayne National Forest, the area attracts millions of outdoor enthusiasts. The development of the Baileys Trail System, an 88-mile trail designed for mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers, exemplifies the region’s potential for sustainable economic diversification. Additionally, the villages of Caldwell and Beverly have also undertaken projects to explore trail development and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

Arts & Economic Prosperity
Buckeye Hills is also involved in the sixth national Arts & Economic Impact Study conducted by Americans for the Arts. The council collected audience-intercept surveys at local arts and culture events across the eight counties. The data collected will contribute to a report analyzing the economic impact of arts and culture in the region due out this fall.

EDA Investments in Southeast Ohio People and Communities
Buckeye Hills recently assisted three communities in securing Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants. These grants include a $5 million award to the Athens County Port Authority for constructing a facility within the Bill Theisen Industrial Park, a $1.3 million grant for water infrastructure improvements in Morgan County, and $1.2 million to support economic development through water main relocation and upgrades in Monroe County. These projects are expected to create jobs, retain existing employment, and generate additional private investment.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council serves as a council of governments dedicated to enhancing the lives of residents in southeast Ohio, including Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties. The council facilitates collaboration between elected officials and connects communities with local, state, and federal resources through its divisions focused on Aging & Health, Home Care, Community Development, and Planning. For more information, visit buckeyehills.org.

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