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State awards $150,000 grant to Thirty-One Gifts

By SCOTT RAWDON

ThisWeek Community News – April 30, 2012

A state grant is making the trip to work safer for a Johnstown company’s employees.

State Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) announced Monday, April 23, the state had awarded a $150,000 Roadwork Development Grant to Johnstown’s Thirty-One Gifts, a direct seller of embroidered handbags and other home and gift items.

In 2009 and 2010, the company invested $5.4 million in building, infrastructure and land improvements. It also created 75 new full-time jobs at the Johnstown business park as part of an expansion project.

“I want to commend Thirty-One Gifts for choosing to invest in Johnstown and bringing new jobs to the community,” Schaffer said in a news release. “The modifications to U.S. 62 made possible by this grant will benefit Thirty-One Gifts as well as nearby businesses by allowing traffic to flow more freely, and I am happy that these dollars will be used to improve our community and local businesses.”

According to the release, the project includes adding a right-turn lane along U.S. Route 62 as well as the installation of a traffic signal at Route 62 and Commerce Drive. These improvements will allow a safer entry and exit of vehicles into the business park and decrease traffic congestion.

Thirty-One Gifts has committed to funding the balance of the roadwork improvement costs.

“This is great news,” Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said.

He said the Roadwork Development Grant was a collaborative effort by Thirty-One Gifts, the village of Johnstown, ODOT and the Ohio

Department of Development to bring the infrastructure upgrade from planning to reality.

“The village is excited to continue our outstanding relationships with our local businesses to assist in any way possible to keep or create jobs in Johnstown,” he said.

“This is for a project that should’ve happened a long time ago,” said Megan Gordon, director of economic development for Thirty-One Gifts.

She said the company has been paying for a person to direct traffic at the Route 62 and Commerce Drive intersection. The grant will help to pay for an automated signal that will help all businesses in the park, Gordon said.

“That intersection is dangerous,” she said. “We didn’t feel it’s safe.”

She said Thirty-One Gifts agreed to monitor the intersection until funding was available for the traffic light and other upgrades.
Gordon said her company would like to expand operations in the Johnstown business park, but not until several infrastructure issues are addressed, beginning with the intersection.

“Right now, this is step one. It has to be safe,” she said, adding the village of Johnstown has worked diligently to help Thirty-One Gifts improve the business park.

“The village has been an amazing partner. We’ve been working on this together,” said Gordon. “We’ll get it done.”

MP3 Downloads Now Available at Licking County Library

More and more libraries are offering ebooks and audiobooks for download, but the availability of digital content for music is still limited. Licking County Library now provides the Freegal music service, a portal through which library patrons can download (and keep!) up to three songs a week.

Here’s how: Go to the library’s website at www.lickingcountylibrary.info and click on the Freegal button (located on the left under the blue toolbar). On the freegal page that appears, enter your library card number with no spaces and your pin. You’re in!

Freegal currently offers tracks from the Sony record label. The MP3s work on any kind of player, including iPod, and are compatible with both PC and Mac. Songs downloaded from Freegal will remain in your computer until you choose to delete them.

Taken from the Newark Advocate – May 1, 2012

http://www.newarkadvocate.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=PluckPersona&U=1c18de3615854789a7ae4fe88f97b49d&plckPersonaPage=BlogViewPost&plckUserId=1c18de3615854789a7ae4fe88f97b49d&plckPostId=Blog%3a1c18de3615854789a7ae4fe88f97b49dPost%3ad2944e81-1357-4c61-8f33-75329026f0f0&plckController=PersonaBlog&plckScript=personaScript&plckElementId=personaDest&odyssey=mod|blogs

 

Lenner: Educated workforce drives economic development

By JENNA GANT
ThisWeek Community NewspapersFriday March 23, 2012 5:52 PM

Two Johnstown village officials who attended an Economics-Education Summit in Columbus earlier in the month presented their findings to village council on March 20.

David Keck, president of Johnstown Village Council, and Jim Lenner, village manager, talked about how they learned how education can drive economic development in the area.

“The big thing I took from it was having a valuable workforce,” Lenner said. “Companies aren’t going to want to come into a community if there are no workers to staff their needs.”

To obtain a viable workforce, Lenner said, local schools have to provide the necessary training for those potential employers.

“A lot of times it’s companies saying ‘We’re coming. We need a program in association with a vocational school or secondary school to get our workers trained within six months,’” Lenner said.

“A lot of communities work with organizations such as C-TEC (Career and Technology Education Centers) or Ohio State University-Newark, or the vocational schools to build programs that funnel trained workers into that company,” he said.

Keck said there are 9,600 open jobs in Ohio right now, but residents across the state are not trained for the positions that are available.

He said the village is currently putting together a commercial packet for businesses looking to build in Johnstown.

“We want to make sure we include some things in there that represent some of the points that were brought up, like about logistics and about training and about the education opportunities near here,” Keck said.

“We have a good public schools system and on top of that we’re within easy driving range of dozens of schools that do all sorts of things,” he said.

Keck said it’s all about promotion — which is why he said the commercial packet is a great first step.

“If we promote the schools that are near us, then that means they will be more likely to provide the kinds of things that the community needs to draw these kinds of businesses in, and that just helps the residents and helps the village financially,” he said.

One problem, Lenner said, is with businesses that require drug testing. He said a lot of potential employees fail the test.

“The career tech schools are saying kids will progress through something until they need a drug test and they skip to another major if they don’t have to have a drug test,” Lenner said. “They said it’s a huge problem in education and economic development.”

Both Lenner and Keck agree that with Ohio being with in 600 miles of 61 percent of the manufacturing in the United States and Canada, Johnstown needs to be ready to provide opportunities to help the local community thrive during difficult economic times.

Johnstown upgrading website to entice more businesses

By JENNA GANT
ThisWeek Community Newspapers

The village of Johnstown is looking to overhaul its website as part of an attempt to lure more businesses to the village.

Village Manager Jim Lenner said he recently talked to a developer at On-Target Design to discuss creating a new website.

Lenner said the revamped website would attract more businesses looking to find a new home.

“When companies come looking at properties in the village or any municipality, the first thing they do is look at the website,” Lenner said. “They want to see the appearance of the village, and that’s the first time they have a view of what the village is all about.

“So I think having a clean, crisp website is important for the image of the village when people or companies are looking to come here,” he said.

The new website would incorporate more photos and use social media to connect with companies and residents, Lenner said. Village employees are in the process of revising the content, he said, while the developer drafts the website design.

Lenner said the village’s council minutes, agendas, and other matters of official record are currently all paper documents.

Administrative assistant Lisa Rawson is digitizing all of the paperwork from 2008 to the present to put on the new website, he said.

Lenner said interested businesses would easily be able to find information about Johnstown, and that’s important for when businesses look for a new location.

“If a company is looking at the industrial park, they will count you out as soon as they can,” Lenner said. “If you give them all the information they need on your website, you’ll be in the running as the site selection process progresses.”

Lenner said he would like to see more companies come to Johnstown, specifically to the Industrial Park.

On Nov. 15, village council approved $25,000 for planning and engineering costs for a second entrance at the park. On Jan. 17, council approved a resolution for the village to enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The agreement means ODOT will add a new traffic light at the intersection of U.S. Route 62 and Commerce Boulevard and widen both streets, adding a right-turn lane to improve traffic flow.

ODOT also plans to add a traffic light at the intersection of U.S. 62 and Sportsman Club Road, as well as put in turning lanes at the intersection and realign the two roads.

With this construction, ODOT is requesting that the village construct a roadway connecting Phillips Drive to Sportsman Club Road.

Reconstructing the Industrial Park and the website, Lenner said, would be the start of bringing in more companies to Johnstown.

Once Lenner finalizes the content within the next two weeks, he believes it will take about three months for prospective businesses and residents to see the final product.