Chamber event features county officials

Four officials gave an update on Delaware County at the Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Third Thursday” luncheon held March 16 at the Brookshire Event Venue.

Three of the speakers were previously announced — County Commissioner Jeff Benton, County Economic Development Director Monica Conners, and County Administrator Tracie Davies. Chief Deputy Engineer Robert Riley also spoke.

Davies opened by briefly explaining what drives Delaware County’s continued growth. She mentioned the high quality of life, the business-friendly environment, decision making, infrastructure foresight, revenue stream stability and a conservative fiscal policy. She explained that the latter involved questioning whether moneys were needed to be spent.

“We’re very mindful of our budget,” Davies said. “It’s our money. We manage it like we do our households, methodical and prudent. As one of our commissioners says, ‘My first priority is to the taxpayers.’”

Benton said the county is making long-term plans, starting with its latest new hires. He then said the under-construction Byxbe Campus will become a “one-stop shop” for the county, with departments and offices moving in later this year.

Benton also said the county had awarded $240,000 in Community Enhancement Grants to 15 agencies. Other “investments in our future” were in fiber, transportation, utility partnerships, and what he called “our legacy economy.”

Lastly, Benton said the county’s bed tax should allow for grandstand renovations at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, hopefully done in time for this year’s fair.

Conners said goals for her department this year are communicating and collaborating, focusing on the basics, strategic planning, township town halls, and establishing trust and transparency. She also wants to meet with at least 70 businesses in 2023.

She noted that 58% of adults in Delaware County have a degree, the highest percentage in the state of Ohio.

Staying competitive moving forward involves the county’s real estate, workforce, taxes and incentives, Conners said. She noted she hopes the Berlin Business Park lands a company this year. In the meantime, the county is looking for the next site for a business park, ideally a supplier to Intel or Honda.

Benton, Conners, and Davies then answered audience questions ranging from agriculture and Amtrak to low-income housing.

Riley joined them to field a couple of audience questions concerning county road projects.

Chamber members were encouraged to speak to their local politicians regarding securing more funding for the county as well as its school districts. Benton said that despite the county’s growth, it is 87th out of the 88 Ohio counties in receiving state funding.

For more information about Third Thursdays, visit DelawareAreaChamber.com.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected]