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LEDC touts economic growth

Chamber seeks Christmas Market vendors

The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce is still accepting vendor applications for its Christmas Market, according to Lawrence Economic Development Corporation board member Massie Schemmel.

Schemmel told the board on Tuesday morning that though it’s still early in the season for some to think about the holidays, the chamber’s plans for its Festival of Trees at the Christmas Market event are ongoing. Schemmel said that they are especially looking for vendors selling their own hand-made, artisan crafted items.

The Christmas Market is scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, at the chamber offices in South Point, and will include the popular Festival of Trees display.
LEDC Executive Director, Dr. Bill Dingus, discussed positive economic developments with the board during his report, stating that the “area(‘s economy) is the best, in full motion, since I’ve been here.”

“The region’s economy is great,” Dingus said. In addition to the various ongoing industrial developments at The Point Industrial Park and in the Haverhill area, Dingus discussed the Gateway Center and Brumberg Building in Ironton, as well as a new mall development at the end of the Ironton-Russell bridge.

“The difficulty,” he said, “is finding employees.”

The tele-health center, 24/7, is still looking to add more employees, he said. However, like with other industries in the area, he said that applicants either don’t have the proper technical background, or have trouble passing a drug screening.

The board also discussed the possibility of existing industry losing employees as their talent considers jobs in the new industries that plan to open in the region.

Dingus said that it was “nice, but challenging,” that talented people with a strong work ethic will have more choices with the new companies, but that it reveals a need to begin training young people to do the jobs being created.

“Education is key,” Dingus said, explaining that we need to train more kids to go into industry, and that more schools should be looking at two-year technical programs in areas like chemistry.

In other action, the LEDC accepted bids on the demolition of the Grandview Inn. Bids for complete demolition were higher than expected, Dingus said, so they are looking at doing it in sections, but are running up against time limits with some grant funds.

The board also approved negotiating final loan financing for the purchase of Dow property, reaffirmed the sale of the Winter Rose Park, and reaffirmed the purchase of land on Lawrence Street, contiguous to the planned Ironton mall.

After returning from executive session to discuss real estate, they also approved leases for two buildings at The Point Industrial Park, without naming the tenants.

The board approved lease of the Spec 11 building with a 15-year loan, and approved consideration of a lease for the Spec 3 building.

The board also approved setting up a new bank account for the safety council, approved the sale of two buildings and land to the PureCycle development, accepted road grants for the HWI project, in conjunction with the port authority, and adopted a resolution allowing Dingus to sign any and all documents pertaining to utility easements outside of the Point.

The convention and visitor’s bureau will have a new director, following board approval for the hiring of Cody Hatten. Hatten, who is currently completing a Master’s degree program at Marshall, has a background in digital media, according to Dingus, and will be responsible for the CVB’s daily business, including content on the new LED sign along U.S. 52.