STEUBENVILLE - Ed Looman is stepping down as executive director of Progress Alliance after four years to take a job with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth as project manager for Jefferson and seven other counties in Eastern Ohio .
Looman tendered his resignation to the Community Improvement Corp. at Tuesday's meeting at Voto Sales, saying it wasn't an easy decision.
"I feel a deep, deep sense of gratitude to the folks who have served on the CIC board, along with the elected and appointed officials throughout the county who gave me an opportunity to serve this county and the people of this county," he said, adding he appreciates the cooperation and assistance he received from local government over the years.
CHANGES COMING —Progress Alliance Executive Director Ed Looman, center, tendered his resignation Tuesday to take a position with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth. Robert Chapman, president of the Community Improvement Corp., listens while Looman addresses the board, and Kim Cline-Deluca takes notes during the meeting, which was hosted by Voto Sales. -- Linda Harris
His resignation takes effect in 30 days, though he will be available as needed to assist the transition at Progress Alliance.
"I think what I enjoy most about economic development work is project management, learning the needs of the prospect whether it be a new business or helping a business expand, then working to put the pieces of the puzzle together - seeing what the need is, what the ask is, then putting the pieces together to provide financial assistance," Looman said. "This position will allow me to focus on project work in Jefferson and seven other counties in this region. I'll still be able to help with economic development efforts in Jefferson County, just in a different format."
In his new position, Looman will report to John Molinaro, president and chief executive officer of APEG, which serves 25 counties in Southeastern Ohio.
"Ed is one of the more successful and respected economic development professionals serving the region," Molinaro said in announcing his hiring. "He has done a great job of organizing economic development efforts in Jefferson County, and has had quite a bit of experience working with companies in the shale industry and its supply chain. He has also done a great job developing an inventory of development sites in the county - a critical task for APEG to replicate across the region in the months ahead."
Looman said his tenure with the CIC "gives me an understanding of what other organizations in the counties I'll be serving are facing, and I can help them navigate the statewide channels for financial assistance."
"The cooperation, assistance and financial support for Progress Alliance has been extraordinary, but this is an opportunity that will put me in an area of concentration that I will enjoy from a professional basis," he said. "The timing is probably not the greatest, from the standpoint of what's transpiring here, but I think the county is headed in the right direction."
In one of his final acts as executive director, Looman presented the CIC board with a rundown on 18 projects Progress Alliance had assisted during the past year, which included:
Audubon Engineering, Hess, Power Torque Services, Shale Transportation Services, Cambridge Home Health Services and La Grande Taqueria, all operating out of leased spaces in Steubenville
Express Energy, leasing space in Toronto.
U.S. Safety Gear, Heavy Duty Industrial Service and Powers Martial Arts Studio, leasing spaces in Wintersville; Blind Horse Knives, which expanded its operations and work force after relocating to leased space in Wintersville.
Environmental Management Specialists and H&H Screening and Graphics, which purchased buildings in Steubenville;
Microtel Inn & Suites, now under construction in Steubenville.
Premier Pump, preparing to begin construction of a new service center in the Jefferson County Industrial Park.
Northeast Ohio minerals company, constructing a new operations center in southern Jefferson County.
Esmark's purchase of the former RG Steel plant in Yorkville which, if all goes as planned, will put 160 people back to work in early 2013.
The expansion of an as-yet unidentified local company which eventually will lead to creation of new employment opportunities.
Looman credited the efforts of the Progress Alliance staff, which includes Donna Hrezo and Kim Cline-Deluca, with "being totally dedicated to making good things happen in Jefferson County."
"I don't think a lot of folks realize how fortunate this county is to have extraordinary support for economic development," he said. "I'm talking about the number of businesses we have that financially support economic development, and it still makes us the envy of a lot of counties in this region, and public support has been great - we've had the support of the county, the cities of Steubenville, Wintersville and Toronto and Cross Creek Township.
"That private support has enabled the organization to do so many things we wouldn't been able to do (otherwise). At this point, about 52 percent to 53 percent of our funding is from private sources. It runs the gamut of the business community from the largest employer in the county all the way down to businesses with two or three employees that make the sacrifice for economic development."
Looman said he sincerely believes Jefferson County is moving in the right direction.
"I also believe that Progress Alliance is in a solid position to continue making good things happen," he said.
(Harris can be contacted at email@example.com)