Scioto County, which sits just across the Ohio River from Kentucky, was a thriving manufacturing hub decades ago, but its industries and many of its remaining factories are mere shells of their former selves. The area lost thousands of jobs — and residents — as companies closed or moved operations overseas. Businesses continue to downsize, leaving Scioto County with a 8.8% unemployment rate.
But Jason Kester, executive director of the Southern Ohio Port Authority, is undeterred in his efforts to spur economic development in the area. More than two dozen companies have opened shop or expanded in the four-county region since 2013, creating 745 new jobs and bringing nearly $150 million in new investments, according to data from the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio.
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