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AEP Ohio awards economic program grant

SOUTH POINT — A $10,000 grant from AEP Ohio is bringing The Point industrial park closer to positioning itself for international trade.

On Friday executives from AEP Ohio presented officials from the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. with a check from its local economic assistance program grant.

The money will go toward developing an EB-5 Regional Center in the county.

“It is for a competitive grant to allow us to further develop the EB5 certification program to help the entire international investment into Lawrence County and the surrounding area,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the LEDC, said.

With an EB-5 classification for every $500,000 from a direct foreign investment into the region that goes toward developing a new company with more than 25 jobs that company can get an extended visa for a family member.

Often this is used to allow an executive’s child to study in the United States.

“There are three or four businesses we are marketing for internationally,” Viviane Vallance of the LEDC, said. “Germany is seriously looking at expanding in the U.S. and Ohio, very seriously.”

To reach that market LEDC officials are planning to go to Germany to hold an international trade recruiting mission in June.

“Germany is fairly progressive in technology and looking for new markets,” Dingus said.

On the logistics side LEDC is looking toward the Asian market, which Dingus says will become more accessible with the expansion of the Panama Canal doubling its capacity to allow the transport of more and larger ships.

Right now larger barges come up from the ports of New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., to South Point where they are broken up into smaller units and transported to the region.

“This has become a transportation hub,” Dingus said. “With the coming of containers on barges, it will be continue to be the hub.”

AEP Ohio’s economic assistance program is designed to keep jobs and attract new ones in manufacturing and investment. To get AEP funding the grant recipient must be able to leverage other funds and show how the money will have regional benefits.