HEATH, OH—Following a four-year effort to bring additional resources to Licking County, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) highlighted the region’s renewed designation as a Small Business Administration HUBZone at the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority on Thursday. Brown introduced an amendment that was included in the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act that would enable the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority o reestablish its designation as a Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone through 2015.
“Renewed HUBZone status will bolster the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority’s already strong record of expanding businesses to create jobs,” Brown said. “This designation will increase opportunities for Licking County’s businesses and skilled workforce while supporting this proven economic anchor that has brought hundreds of jobs to the region.”
Brown met with Heath Mayor Mark Johns in addition to local officials, business owners, and members of the Port Authority affected by the HUBZone designation. The renewed status gives small businesses in the area—or those that employ residents of the area—preferential access to federal procurement opportunities in order to encourage economic development and job creation in the region. Brown also toured the facility, which hosts the only “clean room,” a sterilized facility where advanced manufacturing and technological development takes place, in Licking County.
The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority was created in 1995 to take over ownership of the Newark Air Force Base upon its closure in 1996. As part of its redevelopment efforts, the Port Authority was granted HUBZone status through a provision aimed at helping communities affected by military bases closures. After a series of administrative hurdles, the Port Authority was granted HUBZone status beginning in Dec. 2004, but was not officially listed for more than three years before losing that designation in 2009 due to a five-year limitation.
Because of strategic cooperation among business, community, and government leaders, the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority is the state’s largest self-supported port authority, currently housing more than 800 workers employed at more than 14 businesses. It has a three-fold mission of management, development, and leadership for county-wide economic development efforts. The Port Authority is also home to the Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center, among Ohio's top-five largest concentrations of aerospace and defense industry jobs.
In October 2011, Brown delivered the keynote address marking the 15-year anniversary of Newark Air Force Base’s transition to the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center and the 50-year anniversary of the inertial guidance systems repair and metrology program first coming to Heath.