The City of Belpre revealed today a new Economic Development Strategy plan. The plan will guide economic development activities in the City over the next decade with a focus on enhancing redevelopment efforts, the creation of a community improvement corporation, and establishing the Civitan Joint Recreation District.

After being delayed several months due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the planning process, Mayor Michael Lorentz and Southeastern Ohio Port Authority (SeOPA) Executive Director, Jesse Roush, presented the completed City of Belpre Economic Development Strategy to Belpre City Council on Monday night. The planning process began in October 2019 after City Council unanimously approved a contract with Burton Planning Services (BPS), of Westerville, Ohio, for the completion of an economic development strategy to guide future development in the City.

The planning process included a thorough assessment of existing conditions, a BPS facilitated economic development exercise, and over 20 stakeholder interviews with key city staff, area business leaders, elected officials, school officials, and other community leaders. Both Lorentz and Roush indicated preliminary work was underway on a couple of the strategies outlined in the report and increased public engagement surrounding the plan is on the near horizon.

It is so important that we decide as a city, exactly what we want, what we need, and where we want it.

Mayor Michael Lorentz

“Over the past few years, the city has experienced growth unlike anything since Shell Chemical came to town,” said Mayor Lorentz. “It is so important that we decide as a city, exactly what we want, what we need, and where we want it. Therefore, experts were asked to assist us with defining these opportunities. A short survey for all of Belpre to express their concerns and/or ideas about the plan will soon follow and all community input will be considered before we act on anything major.”

“This plan highlights more than a dozen strategies that range from the fairly simple, to the more complex, all of which will enhance the quality of life and overall economic well-being for the city of Belpre,” said SeOPA Executive Director, Jesse Roush.

Roush, who also serves as Chairman of the Belpre Chamber’s Economic Development Committee (EDC), referenced the formation of the Belpre Area Community Improvement Corporation as the next significant step for the EDC. “The CIC is being organized to advance, encourage, and support the economic and civic development of Belpre. We’ll be sharing much more about the ‘why and what’ of this process very soon.”

Karen Waller, Executive Director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce, see the plan as a milestone accomplishment for the community. “The Chamber’s mission is to assist with the growth and expansion of business in the Belpre, Ohio area. All of our work is passed through that filter and this plan is a huge step towards becoming a city that’s ‘open for business,'” said Waller. “The Economic Development Strategy will help guide Chamber processes now, and into the future. Our membership, staff, and board of directors are committed to creating a quality local climate in which to live, as well as to grow a business.”

Financial support for the creation of the City of Belpre Economic Development Strategy was provided by the City of Belpre, the Belpre Area Community Development Foundation, and the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, with significant in-kind support provided by the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce. The plan in full can be viewed here.