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Kenton to put $75,000 "War Chest" for Economic Development

Kenton City Council in November was encouraged to “start building a war chest” to help attract new industry to the community.

Kenton City Council in November was encouraged to “start building a war chest” to help attract new industry to the community. That “war chest” promoted by Jon Cross, president of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, is expected to total $75,000 to begin 2015.

The city had designated $25,000 for economic development in its 2014 budget. The finance committee has proposed adding another $25,000 from this year’s carryover funds – a move yet to be approved by the council. Plus, the 2015 budget before council includes an additional $25,000 appropriation for economic development efforts.

The money will be combined in an economic development capital projects fund, the creation of which was adopted by council Monday night following suspension of its three-reading rule. The fund will be used to assist in capital projects that will advance the economic development of the city, according to the legislation. City Council authorization is required to use money from the fund.

Cross encouraged the city to build the war chest to offer local incentives to attract new industry.

He said at council’s Nov. 10 meeting that “anything we can do to give ourselves a slight advantage” over other communities vying for a new industry is the goal of the fund.

That’s because of the announcement that Sekisui Plastics USA will be opening its second U.S. plant in Kenton at the former Innoplas building on U.S. 68, just south of Kenton. The new plant is expected to create 50 jobs and is scheduled to open in July. Cross said until the plant gets up and running, anyone wanting to submit resumes can do so through the Ohio Means Jobs Hardin County office in Kenton.

He also announced the Alliance will be restructuring its committees into divisions of chamber and tourism, economic development and community development (formerly downtown development).

Jacqualine Fitzgerald will be heading the community development committee and she announced Kenton could soon be getting a new restaurant.

Hot Head Burritos, a quick serve Mexican restaurant, wants to open a location in Kenton. The company is looking for a franchise operator and anyone interested can contact Fitzgerald at the Alliance office. The Ohio-based company already has 59 locations, mainly in Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Cross reported the Alliance and the Downtown Revitalization Committee is continuing to receive mainly positive feedback on the proposal for two sides of diagonal parking on the north side of the square between Main and Detroit streets. Columbus Street would be made one-way in that block.

The committee is continuing to gather more information before presenting the plan to City Council. Cross also noted that the Window Wonderland project in downtown Kenton continues to generate plenty of comments. The Alliance’s Facebook page has over 10,000 hits about the holiday decorations project. He praised Fitzgerald’s creativity and vision in coming up with the idea.