Governor John Kasich and members of his cabinet plan to be in Wilmington Tuesday for his annual State of the State speech and a series of related public events. He’ll be showcasing how the state has assisted rebuilding in rural Clinton County, which has a population of around 42,000.
It’s just six years since the shipping company DHL pulled out of the Wilmington Airpark—where it used to employ thousands. For awhile in 2010, the unemployment rate in Clinton County was close to 20 percent. Now it’s back down around six percent—but thousands have left the workforce completely.
“We’re still feeling like we’re somewhat in recovery mode, I think,” said Taylor Stuckert, the associate director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission and the co-founder of Energize Clinton County, a grassroots community and economic development group founded at the peak of Wilmington’s tough economic times.
They’ve seen some growth at the airpark, which DHL donated to the county. And a trickle of businesses have either come to town or expanded to the tune of 50 jobs here, a hundred jobs there, many with state tax incentives.
Stuckert says the big State of State hoopla today won’t hurt economically, either.
“You can’t deny the value of having the full attention of the state government,” he said.
He says Wilmington, a town of around 12,000, will keep its focus on local issues like education and quality of life as it tries to adjust to a still-changing economy. A thriving downtown and local businesses have been focal points for Energize Clinton County.
Kasich is expected to focus on the much-improved state economy, income tax cuts, and his proposed two-year budget his fifth State of the State address as Ohio governor.
Lewis Wallace is WYSO's managing editor, substitute host and economics reporter. Follow him @lewispants.