Community Will Maintain Focus on Economic Recovery
By Congressman Michael Turner
Our community recently received the disappointing news that DHL would eliminate its North American operations. This announcement was accompanied by the news that the company planned to cut their workforce by 9,500 jobs. While DHL’s decision to cease their domestic operations in the United States is unfortunate, our community has worked to prepare itself for this possibility for months. The impact of this decision on workers and families in our region will still be extremely significant. That is why leaders in our community must continue to work together at all levels of government and why we must focus on efforts to continue to build our local economy.
Our community should be very proud of the outstanding effort and hard work that our local workforce put into their jobs at the Wilmington Airpark. This excellent group of employees deserves recognition and reward for their loyalty and high achievement. While our community must continue to look to the future, DHL must be held accountable to its responsibility to this workforce.
This is particularly important in light of the hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives given to DHL by Clinton County and the State of Ohio to attract them to our region. Recently, the company gave a check for $1 million to the Clinton County Foundation to assist the community in the upcoming transition period. While this is appreciated, we must also focus on the severance packages given to Airpark employees and work to make certain that they are both properly compensated and provided an opportunity to recover. It is imperative that the workers and families at this facility receive full severance packages.
Our region is very fortunate to have a great asset in the Wilmington Airpark and such a dedicated and experienced workforce. We must immediately begin to build on these assets for our future economic success. It is critical that our community work together with DHL on the reuse of the Wilmington Airpark. That is why I worked with the Joint Economic Task Force to bring Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Sandy Baruah to our region. During his visit, Assistant Secretary Baruah committed to providing our region the assistance and funding we need to develop and implement an economic recovery plan. In September, our region received the welcome news that the Department of Commerce would award a $150,000 economic development grant to help our region develop a plan to find new uses for the facility. This grant was the result of a constant team effort from the Ohio congressional delegation and state and local officials.
According to a report compiled by the Wilmington/DHL Economic Response Task Force, over 45 of Ohio’s 88 counties have at least one person employed at the airpark in Wilmington. For over six counties in the state, including Clinton and Highland Counties, the airpark serves as their largest overall employer. Clearly, this is a critical economic issue for our entire region and only by working together can we rebuild our local economy. Our region’s leaders and elected officials must continue to work together on this vital issue. I am committed to making sure every federal resource is available to assist the community in its transition.