Groups working together to improve CR 12

MILLCREEK TOWNSHIP – In Coshocton County businesses, citizens and organizations work hand in hand to contribute to the overall prosperity of the county. The Coshocton Port Authority, a government entity, was created to “connect businesses, industry, finance, government and education to promote growth and prosperity.”

Serving this exact purpose, Dorothy Skowrunski, the executive director of the port authority, has implemented multiple projects, creating jobs in the region and incentives for industries to choose Coshocton and expand here. She has been closely working with Ohio organizations such as OMEGA, ODOT and APEG among others. Together, they created jobs for the people of Coshocton, developed EPA cleaning projects to bring in industries and sustain economic growth. All these actors of economic development connect the dots, designing win-win situations.

The Amish community also is part of the Coshocton community. More than that, the Amish community of Coshocton County is a major player in the economic growth of the region specifically in the wood and furniture industry. The Ohio wood industry contributed to approximately $22.05 billion to Ohio’s economy in 2010. It provides 118,000 jobs throughout the state. The total exports in 2010 amounted to $8.20 billion which represents roughly 16 percent of the total exports of the state of Ohio.

Within this industry, the Amish community – with approximately 60 businesses involved in wood crafting – are employing 323 people and selling each year $61,362,435 of wooden products, therefore contributing considerably to the economic growth of the region. The high quality of the fine furniture produced is extremely valued thus is shipped throughout the United States as far as Alaska and also in Europe. The last five years, their sales have boomed and with it, their exportations have increased.

With high standards and very demanded products, those businesses are concerned about the poor quality of the roads surrounding them, namely, County Road 12. The road in question is bumpy, dangerous and almost impassable. The poor condition of the road damages the furniture that is shipped, tainting the reputation of the finest furniture makers in the United States.

The Amish community had expressed its concern to county officials. But, with schedules filled until 2020, the county engineer alone could not do much for them. Rehabilitating County Road 12 was not even part of the agenda. As Skowrunski likes to say, “There’s only a problem when there is no solution.” The economic organizations in play just had to come up with a more unconventional strategy.

Money from the state of Ohio usually comes with strings attached. Therefore, the Coshocton Port Authority brought multiple local actors together and connected the dots to create a viable project. The project in question will rebuilt 6.45 miles of County Road 12 in Coshocton County with a 2.5” intermediate course and full depth pavement. The construction should take place as soon as possible, whenever the bidding process is over. The project should be over by Oct. 1.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $794,677.64 which is the total construction cost. The organizations cited below have each contributed to the financing of the project either with in-kind dollars or with actual dollars.

With a resurfaced road, more than 60 businesses will be able to fully expand and export their fine crafted furniture safely. In turn, it will stimulate their growth with the projected creation of 96 jobs within the next five years. Moreover, the projected business increase over the next five years is estimated at 20 percent as it will be easier to ship and receive the furniture and raw material. Plus, the safety of the road being improved, it will draw more people in the nearby cities creating even more economic and touristic activity.

By connecting the dots among all available resources, the idea to rehabilitate Coshocton County Road 12 has become a feasible project.

From Coshocton Beacon Today  |  August 7, 2015