WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today expressed support for DHL’s decision to transfer authority of its air park to the Clinton County Port Authority.
“This is a critical step toward rebuilding the economy of Clinton County and Southwest Ohio,” Brown said. “Until today, the Wilmington Airpark was the largest privately-owned airport in the country. Now that the county port authority has ownership of the facility, we will be able to market the Air Park and attract new businesses. It is critical that we put this regional asset to productive use and put Southwest Ohioans back to work.”
Following today’s announcement, 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.
“Both proposals submitted to EDA will compliment the ownership transfer of the Wilmington Air Park. The first is a proposal for a revolving loan fund 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 is a micro revolving loan fund to be administered by the City of Wilmington for small business and economic development projects.
The transfer of ownership is a significant step towards rebuilding the economy of the region. Additional support is needed to compliment the marketing and redevelopment of the Air Park to once again be a major employer in the region.” Brown wrote in his letter to Assistant Sec. Fernandez.
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. Sen. Brown has been working closely with local and state officials on the issue of ownership of the air park. Brown led the Ohio Congressional delegation letter to the U.S. Department of Labor in support of Wilmington’s 2008 application for National Emergency Grant (NEG) funds, which was accepted again this past year. In addition, 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.