The Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority helped attract about $650 million in county-wide industrial investment, with $84 million being invested inside the Zanesville city limits.
“We have the ability to create jobs whether it’s in the city or the county, but if it’s outside in the county specifically, there are things within the city that stand to benefit,” said Matt Abbott, Port Authority executive director. “There might not be an industrial factory put in the downtown area of the City of Zanesville, but people are going to be coming for healthcare, people are going to be coming because we’re a regional retail hub as well, and I think you see that with the retail development that’s taken place within our community.”
Regionally, Zanesville is a major hub for healthcare, as Genesis is the largest provider in a six-county region. In 2013, ground was broken for Genesis and the community raised about $16 million to help pay for the new facility, which consolidated the Bethesda and Good Samaritan Hospital campuses. A more than $200 million investment, the hospital strengthened the city’s commitment to health care, added jobs in the health care industry and equipped the city to care for more regional patients.
“We are the regional hub for health care, and that cannot be downplayed with Genesis healthcare system in our community,” Abbott said. “That is something that should never be overlooked, the power of the high-caliber healthcare system that we do have, employing around 3,000 people.”
The city of Zanesville is also a regional hub for retail trade and accommodation/food services industries, employ the second- and fourth-highest percentage of workers in Zanesville. Both industries benefit the community by not only employing workers, but, like the health care sector, by attracting people from outside the county and furthering the city’s reputation as a hub for those services.
Zanesville City Schools has evolved dramatically in the past decade, starteinga vocational agriculture program, robotics, and E-sports, programs that weren’t previously possible, according to Assistant Superintendent Steve Foreman.
“Just having the electrical outlets in the classrooms to support some of the things we’re talking about was impossible, because we didn’t have them,” he said.
In 2014, Zane State cut the ribbon on its new Advanced Science and Technology Building, and ZSC has since expanded its College Credit Plus Program to local high schools.
“When their programs improve, we’re basically feeding into their programs, so it helps us. When they become stronger, we become stronger,” Foreman said.
Going forward, the city is placing an emphasis on trade-based education. After a levy for Mid-East was passed in the fall, the school will moved forward with $13 million in improvements at its Zanesville and Buffalo campuses. ZCS also opened its vocational building this fall. Foreman said he’s been in contact with a number of local businesses and is in the process of forming partnerships with them for programs that will provide training certifications for students and lead to potential internships with area companies.
“I would say that our offerings to students are greater today than they’ve ever been,” Foreman said. “We’re really working to give students, at the end of their path here with us, more than a diploma, but a skill, a trade, something that they’re interested in that they can go off and do.”
For Foreman, the improvements to Zanesville’s educational landscape translate to city-wide growth by providing the next generation real world skills.
“Let’s do those things, because that’s going to benefit those businesses, and it’s going to benefit us, too. We’re giving those kids more than a diploma and we’re changing the culture of Zanesville.”
The city has also reaped financial benefits of industrial growth in the county, most notably through its Joint Economic Development District agreement in Washington Township — the location of Eastpointe Business Park. According to Abbott, revenue from that JEDD was used to purchase land in Perry Township for the development of the forthcoming National Road Business Park, where yet another JEDD is in the works.
“What a JEDD is able to do is allow for elected officials to make decisions and see a ROI (Return on Investment) for community dollars,” Abbott said.
As for business growth within the city, the Ohio Amended Substitute House Bill No. 166 established the Ohio Opportunity Zone Tax Credit, which offers tax incentives for eligible investments in qualified projects located in Ohio Opportunity Zones. Two opportunity zones were established in Zanesville, one in Putnam and one in the State Street and Lee Street area.
“Moving forward, there’s some real incentive for the private sector to invest in areas where those are designated,” Abbott said.
To read the Times Recorder’s full story about Zanesville’s decade of growth, click here.