WASHINGTON, D.C. – An amendment that cleared the Senate today would expand economic development and create jobs in Licking County. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) authored an amendment as part of the Senate Defense Authorization Act that would enable the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority to reestablish its designation as a Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone through 2015. The designation 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.
“The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority has a strong record of expanding businesses to create jobs,” Brown said. “That’s why it makes sense to bolster this proven economic anchor that has brought hundreds of jobs to the region. This designation would increase opportunities for Licking County’s businesses and skilled workforce.”
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 lost that designation in 2009 due to a five-year limitation. Brown’s amendment would restore the HUBzone status, giving small businesses in Newark preferred access to federal contracts and other procurement opportunities.
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.