Elected officials called it a fresh startPublished : Tuesday, 19 Jan 2010, 5:48 PM EST
Sonu Wasu & Chris Smith
WILMINGTON, Ohio (WDTN) -
A major economic announcement was made in Wilmington on Tuesday. The DHL airpark was turned over to Clinton County, and the city of Wilmington.
Community leaders called it a fresh start for their flailing economy. Wilmington, Ohio had been considered the epicenter of the current economic recession. After DHL pulled out last January, more than 8,000 people were left without jobs.
Elected officials stressed that the people of Wilmington may have lost a paychecks, but they never lost hope. "Wow, what a day," said Wilmington Mayor David Raizk. He added that talks had been in progress since DHL announced they were shutting down all domestic operations, and abandoned 2,200 acres of land at the airpark.
"Ending operations in Wilmington was a very painful decision," said John Olin, Senior Vice President of DHL Express. Elected leaders said they hoped the donation of the airpark land to the community would prove that economic tragedy could be turned into triumph.
The Port Authority had hired a private company to manage the redevelopment of what was considered the largest private airport in the country.
"Wilmington was described as the town that runs on hope," said Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher. Political leaders said the donation symbolized a new beginning, but it would not happen overnight. "We will be judged not just on this donation but what we do with it," said Fisher.
Officials said businesses were already expressing an interest in relocating to the airpark, but they were not able to give us a timeline of when the community would start to see actual signs of progress, and new jobs.
"All we have today is an opportunity. A very costly opportunity. Something must happen there," said Eric LaMont Gregory, a former DHL employee, and a candidate running for US Senate.
Elected officials said progress takes time, but this prime piece of land was fueling that hope, by answering the prayer of a community in distress.
The air park will officially belong to the Port Authority starting on February 28th.
Middletown native and US Senate candidate Eric LaMont Gregory stopped by Sinclair Community College as part of his statewide tour to promote his candidacy. Gregory said the recent changes in national health care helped influence him to run for office. “Health is politics,” he said.
Gregory was a physiologist who specialized in newborn care. He spent many years working with the World Health Organization, sometimes acting as a liaison between fighting groups within a country. He also worked at Oxford University in England before coming back to his home country.
“I came back to an America 25 years later that is unrecognizable,” Gregory said. “How did we get to the point in this country where our young don’t believe that there’s actual opportunities out there for them?”
“There are a lot of good ideas in America, and no one party has a monopoly on good ideas,” he said.
One of Gregory’s ideas include establishing a flat rate 11 percent income tax for a family of four making $34,000 or more. He also wants to create a flat rate two percent tax to fund public schools instead of using property tax money.