June 25, 2023


By:  Rick Platt

The Cherry Valley Bridge was shut down for more than half a year, and the reverberations were felt across several communities.  Those among us who weren’t sure we needed a new bridge, got their minds changed quickly.

The case for improvements to the Thornwood Drive Corridor are more than relieving the pain from a bridge shut down, though.

Consider these points:

We Need to Get Prepared for Future Growth

Manufacturing is coming back to our shores and Licking County is a microcosm of this reshoring.  Our Port Authority campus in the heart of the Thornwood Corridor has seen a 40% increase in jobs in the last three years.

Intel benefits.  Traffic engineers tout the fact that the shortest distance and time of travel between Intel and points east, is the Thornwood Corridor.  Improvements will only make that through-flow of traffic for Intel suppliers stronger.  It’s notable that the first new Intel supplier in Ohio is located in a building in the Thornwood Corridor.

Getting the improvements to the Thornwood Corridor moving are critical to continuing to capitalize on the economic benefits of reshoring.


Uncle Sam He Has a Role

When jobs come back to our country, it’s the federal government that has the most to gain in tax growth.  Reshored jobs increase the U.S. tax base and manufacturing jobs strengthen the heart of our national economy.

So, it’s totally appropriate that Congressman Troy Balderson and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown were successful in getting $4 million appropriated for Newark in the recent federal budget.  These efforts are a big help to fund the next big Thornwood Corridor project.

When the final state budget comes out, we’ll be hopeful that additional state funding has been secured which will allow the corridor to advance sooner rather than later.

Local funding can close the gap.  The Port Authority has volunteered to help.


We Need to Answer Existing Companies’ Growth Demands

Though the news of 70 diverse companies making investments and creating jobs over decades doesn’t get the attention one big announcement can, the impact is no less vital at local, state, and national levels.

A recent look at the five industrial parks in the Corridor makes the case for devoting attention to getting the Thornwood Corridor advanced:

  • There are 1,600 acres with more than 500 acres ready to go for future, manufacturing-oriented development.
  • Manufacturing brings the highest-paying jobs and the combined $385 million payroll stands out.
  • Already, there are over 8,500 people employed in the Corridor with more jobs on the way.
  • The Corridor’s companies combine to over 10 million square feet of mostly manufacturing space. It’s the largest manufacturing corridor in Central Ohio with a diverse mix of companies.

If population matters, we have that too.  Consider the fact that, if Granville, Newark, Heath, and Hebron were combined, they would rank as the seventh-largest City in Ohio.

Join us.  Supporters in the Corridor aren’t asking for a four-lane, divided highway.  We are asking for a safer and sensible route for our people and our freight to travel.  The case is clear.

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Rick Platt is the President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, a regular development column writer, and a father of four and grandfather of one who lives in Newark.  He is a Board member of JobsOhio.