Once again, our region will face additional challenges with DHL’s recent announcement to relocate their international business operations from Wilmington to Northern Kentucky. In doing so, DHL executives have walked away from a community committed to its success, and abandoned an exceptional and dedicated workforce.
This is particularly disturbing in light of significant investments made by the State of Ohio to make our region an attractive place for DHL to do business. As part of this investment, Ohio taxpayers made significant infrastructure improvements to alleviate traffic around the Wilmington Airpark, including the construction of a new highway bypass.
With DHL’s exit from Wilmington, there are several issues that must be addressed. The first major concern of local officials and the community is the return of the Wilmington Airpark. The airpark is currently the largest privately owned airport in the country and is the only one to have its own private air traffic control tower. The local workforce is well-trained and knows the workings of the airport inside and out. These dedicated employees are ready to work together with local leaders and the federal government to position this unique facility for future use. The return of the airpark to the city of Wilmington is necessary to assist in local economic recovery and job creation efforts as the community moves forward.
The second issue of concern for state and local officials, is the need for a coordinated federal response to assist the region in accessing critical federal resources. The Bush Administration, in order to help the region navigate the complicated federal process, appointed one person to serve as a federal coordinator. As a result, the White House Domestic Policy Director was given the assignment of coordinating the federal response and assisting the community in developing an economic recovery plan.
As a result of these initial efforts, the region was awarded a $150,000 economic development grant to develop a plan to find new uses for the Wilmington Airpark. In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $3.87 million National Emergency Grant to assist DHL employees in retraining and finding new jobs.
Under this new administration, it is important that this federal assistance continues. In January, I spoke to President Barack Obama and urged him to continue helping with the ongoing recovery effort. While the president has expressed support for the region, the community needs the White House to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the region’s economic recovery is a successful one.
Southwest Ohio has put up a fight in an effort to keep DHL in Wilmington. Wilmington Mayor David Raizk and County Commissioners Curry, Riley and Stewart continue to work with my office and other members of the Ohio Congressional delegation to help Clinton and Highland Counties move forward and rebound from DHL’s departure. The community would appreciate officials from the Obama Administration visiting Wilmington to witness the local impact of DHL’s departure. The region welcomes the White House’s assistance in identifying solutions for recovery, including the future of the Wilmington Airpark.
Our community and its workforce are resilient and will pull through. I will continue to work with residents and local officials for the future economic success of the Wilmington Airpark. I am committed to making sure that every federal resource is made available to directly assist workers and families in our community as we move forward.