Buckeye Hills seeks feedback on REDI Plan

Staff report

MARIETTA — Buckeye Hills Regional Council is seeking feedback on its draft Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) Plan during a virtual forum on Oct. 6 at 10 a.m.

A draft of the plan, as well as registration information for the virtual forum, is available at buckeyehills.org/redi.

“The Rural Economic Development Innovation (REDI) Plan focuses on two goal areas: serving small businesses and enhancing the region’s e-connectivity and digital inclusion efforts,” said Anthony Iachini, Development Site Coordinator for Buckeye Hills Regional Council.

The Buckeye Hills region is one of 47 rural communities and regions selected through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s REDI initiative to receive planning assistance to implement focused and actionable economic development plans. The plans are built around the USDA’s Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity recommendations outlined in a report to the President in April 2017. Recommendations were organized around five key indicators of rural prosperity: e-connectivity, quality of life, rural workforce, technological innovation, and economic development.

As identified in a snapshot of regional data, provided by Purdue University, more than 10,340 active businesses operate in the Buckeye Hills region of Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties. Of these businesses, 10,242 (99 percent) have 99 employees or fewer. This plan will focus on these companies, which together provide 71,083 jobs in the region.

While Buckeye Hills and its partners continue their work toward bringing fiber-to-the-home in the region, the REDI Plan will focus on enhanced E-connectivity and broadband availability, as addressing digital inclusion by increasing digital skills and access to devices.

The plan is being developed in with support from USDA Rural Development, Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development, and University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and in partnership with Buckeye Hills Regional Council, The Ohio State University Extension, Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership & Public Affairs, Rural Action, Ohio Department of Transportation, Building Bridges to Careers, Ohio Southeast Economic Development, Appalachian Partnership, Inc., and local economic development organizations in each county.

Those who are unable to attend the virtual forum may leave their feedback through the online survey at buckeyehills.org/redi or contact Anthony Iachini by email at aiachini@buckeyehills.org or call 740-376-7661.

To learn more about Buckeye Hills Regional Council, visit www.buckeyehills.org, call 740-374-9436 or 1-800-331-2644 (toll free), or email info@buckeyehills.org

Buckeye Hills Regional Council is a council of governments dedicated to improving the lives of residents in southeast Ohio. By working collaboratively with elected officials across Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties, Buckeye Hills connects local, state, and federal resources to communities with their Aging & Disability, Community Development, Mapping & Data, Population Health, and Transportation Planning divisions.

Information provided by Buckeye Hills Regional Council.

Staff report