City, county and state officials gathered in Wilmington yesterday to complete the transfer of Wilmington Airpark from the international shipping company DHL to the Clinton County Port Authority . As WYSO's Emily McCord reports, the transfer of the asset couldn't come at a better time, as the county has the worst unemployment rate in Ohio.
Port Authority chairman John Limbert announced what many in Wilmington have been waiting to hear, and the mood was festive as representatives from the county and DHL signed the ceremonial agreement. It finalizes the transfer of the Airpark and its 15,000 acres to the Clinton County Port Authority.
Wilmington Mayer David Raizk had asked DHL to donate the airpark back to the community after its decision to leave in 2009, costing the region over 8,000 jobs.
"There were times I never thought this day would come, and I'm more emotional than I thought I would be," said Raizk during the ceremony.
Both the mayor and Limbert say they've had many inquires from a variety of companies interested in the airpark but had not fully engaged them until the asset was in local control. The businesses range from international and domestic companies with industries like aviation and manufacturing, but Raizk says what's most important is that whoever ends up in the airpark must create jobs.
"This is the number one job-ready site in the state of Ohio so hopefully we'll be fighting [prospective companies] off," says Raizk.
Currently Clinton County's unemployment rate is 17.7%, but local officials are optimistic that they'll have new business in the airpark by the end of the year and hopefully jobs.