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Licking County Leaders Advocate For Intel Collaboration At Annual Groundhog Breakfast

Licking County leaders advocate for Intel collaboration at annual Groundhog Breakfast

Licking County leaders advocate for Intel collaboration at annual Groundhog Breakfast

Licking County is in the midst of unprecedented growth , and local leaders understand collaboration is needed to over the challenges that come with it. During the Licking County Chamber of Commerce’s 67th Annual Groundhog Breakfast Friday morning, Evans Foundation chairwoman Sarah Wallace told the crowd of roughly 600 attendees she hopes local officials can continue to move forward in a collaborative away “because that’s how we are going to have absolutely the best results when it comes to really shaping our future.” “This is not a time when we can sit back and just let things happen,” she said. “We need to plan and, and really be collaborative so that we can speak with a louder voice when it comes to funding and the infrastructure, transportation and those sorts of things.” The Evans Foundation is leading the Framework project, a private-public partnership with townships, cities and villages to ensuring planning efforts align in response to the Intel Corporation’s computer chip plant in western Licking County. Wallace said the public input Framework is gathering through the fall will be used to identify 14 principles that will be the foundation of a final playbook for Licking County. Wallace said advantages such as the higher education institutions, a wonderful workforce with a great work ethic, and strong political, business, nonprofit leadership sets the area apart. But there will be still be challenges. “I think the biggest obstacle — and I think it’s one that we can overcome if we hang together as a community — is in funding for the many projects that will be required for us to be able to really shape our communities,” she said. “We have wonderful communities and they’re unique. Each one them are unique, so we have to work together.” More developments are expected to follow Intel, continuing to add diversity of the wide variety of products made in Licking County. “We’ve got guidance systems for missiles and baby formula,” said Rick Platt, President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority. He said that diversity is another strength of the county’s. Platt said there has been a reshoring trend to bring back manufacturing to the United States and Licking County is a microcosm of that effort with Intel, Behr Process Corporation building in Heath, and biotechnology company Amgen headed to Jersey Township land annexed into New Albany. “I think it’s time for Ohio to get used to growth again,” he said. Wallace, who is also board chair for First Federal Savings, said the economy will likely face “speed bumps” in 2023 but with Licking County unemployment at 2.7% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and more growth expected, the local economy will be resilient. Nationally, she said the country is making progress against inflation and she supports the decisions being made by the Federal Reserve. She said it’s critically important to tame inflation immediately because the effects of high inflation in the 1970s lasted into the first half of the 1980s. “I’m hopefully that this will not last a long time,” she said. Wallace’s daughter Sally Wallace Heckman, President and CEO of First Federal Savings, was this year’s local celebrity in the groundhog costume. During the event, sponsored by Licking Memorial Hospital, the chamber also awarded the annual John Alford Community Service Award to Jim Matesich, CEO of Matesich Distributing. As he accepted the award, he said Licking County residents will have opportunities before them that the past generation didn’t have because of economic growth that is coming to the county over the next 10-20 years. He said he saw business close and factories sit empty. Through that, his family’s business survived, but he said it took teamwork. Matesich, who has spent 45 years with the company, said he has loved sharing the business with his family. 740-607-2175

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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