WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will receive $2,932,835 to provide reemployment services to 729 workers affected by layoffs at Wilmington Air Park in Wilmington. The funding is distributed through the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Emergency Grant (NEG) Program. This is the third round of NEG funding for Clinton County, following $3.8 million in Nov 2008, and $4.4 million in November 2009.
“It is critical that we redevelop the Clinton County Port Authority Airpark to attract new business and put southwest Ohioans back to work,” Brown said. “I am committed to working with federal, state, and local officials to establish a clear path toward recovery and renewed growth for Wilmington. Today’s funding is a significant step toward that goal.”
Since DHL announced plans to shutter all operations at its Wilmington hub in May 2008, Brown has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of the Wilmington community, and helped secure the first two rounds of NEG funding for Clinton County. In January 2010, DHL announced that it would transfer authority of its air park to the Clinton County Port Authority. Following that announcement, Sen. Brown wrote Assistant Secretary of Commerce John Fernandez urging the Agency to expedite consideration of two proposals submitted by Wilmington officials to the Economic Development Administration. The first proposal calls for a revolving loan fund (RLF) to be administered by the Clinton County Port Authority. This RLF would provide additional financing for capital improvements and long-term planning to re-use the facility. The second proposal includes a micro revolving loan fund to be administered by the City of Wilmington for small business and economic development projects.
Sen. Brown has been working closely with local and state officials on the issue of ownership of the air park. Brown helped secure more than $50 million in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to assist Wilmington and other areas across the country that are facing sudden and severe job loss and economic distress due to corporate restructurings.
Brown is also the author of legislation that would assist Wilmington and other communities undergoing extreme economic distress. Brown’s “Rapid Response” bill is based off issues raised at a 2008 roundtable Sen. Brown convened with Mayor Raizk to meet with displaced workers and outline next steps for Wilmington. The legislation is modeled after the successful federal coordinated response implemented when a military base is shuttered. Brown’s legislation would connect economically distressed communities with a specialist or project manager to streamline coordination and assistance efforts available through federal economic and workforce development programs authorized in the Labor Department, the Department of Education, Small Business Administration, Housing and Urban Development, the Treasury Department and Agriculture Department.