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Belpre’s economic plan prioritizes infrastructure

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 9:47 PM EDT
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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - The City of Belpre has revealed an economic plan that will guide future economic development projects.

The plan has been in the works since late 2019. It covers issues ranging from housing to outdoor recreation to zoning.

A brief disclaimer that the plan is complete as a report that guides the focus of economic development but proposed projects are not set in stone.

While the plan may be extensive, Mayor Lorentz said the city’s top priority is infrastructure.

“You know we still have an issue - a little bit of an issue with gas. We have to make sure sewer lines are in the right place, gas is available, sidewalks, good streets, you know all those things. And we’ve got some work to do.”

There are many different pieces to infrastructure but the report pays special attention to advocating for more natural gas supply.

Lorentz said, “We seem to be at the end of the chain, if you will, and it’s hard to get the pressure and the volume we need for some of the larger buildings so, until we get that corrected - there’s been some improvements - until we get it corrected, it is an issue.”

Beyond infrastructure, the report suggests bringing back the CIC also known as a Community Improvement Corporation. This would be a 501C3 organization that brings together different perspectives for economic development.

Jesse Roush, the executive director of Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, explained, “You’re going to create a board that represents your stakeholder base so you’re going to have a position for the mayor, port authority would have a position, the schools would have a position, chamber would have a position, community business leaders...,”

It would be a critical part of asking for grants and would have the ability to receive and buy and sell properties.

The plan also looks to create recreational opportunities along the river

Roushe said, “It is some of the best riverfront in the whole region in terms of being underdeveloped. That’s a good thing right now because we have a blank slate down there. There’s a lot to be done to increase the attractiveness and utilization of Civitan Park.”

A new committee being established to focus on this is a possibility.

You can find a copy of the full report here: https://www.seohioport.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/BelpreEDStrategy_Final_2021_0315-3.pdf

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