Erie County apparently has friends in Columbus.
The Ohio Department of Development has awarded a $300,000 grant to help develop the county's planned new business park on Huron-Avery Road.
The yet-unnamed business park, referred to by commissioners as a "high-tech campus," has 23 acres and is a short distance east of U.S. 250. It also will serve as the new location for the county's misdemeanor court.
The letter informing Erie County it will receive up to $300,000 in state funds was dated March 20 and signed by Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, director of the agency.
Fisher wrote a personal note on the letter, "Commissioners, we are very proud to partner with you in this important investment."
Commissioners had spoken to Gov. Ted Strickland about the grant, commissioner Tom Ferrell said.
The commissioners had hoped to get $600,000 and are still working to get more money, Ferrell said.
The county has been negotiating with a possible tenant at the new business park. Ferrell said he cannot name the company and said it's up to company officials when to announce the deal. He said it's an existing Erie County high technology company and said the company plans to add jobs.
Commissioners have explained that as NASA Plum Brook grows employment and responsibilities during the next few years as it plays a part in Project Constellation, the space agency's plan to turn astronauts to the Moon and send them to Mars, they are doing everything they can to use the work to attract high-tech companies to Erie County.
During Wednesday's meeting at Castaway Bay to formally launch the Erie County Economic Development Corp., Ferrell outlined some of the steps the commissioners are taking.
One particularly important effort is to bring an airport that would serve NASA Plum Brook Station.
"This could change Erie County forever," Ferrell said.
Commissioners approved three tax increment financing deals late in 2007 to allow development projects to go forward and have launched a multi-million dollar effort to extend sewer service south from Kalahari along U.S. 250, Ferrell said.
He said commissioners also reorganized Erie Community Improvement Corp., adding to the group's board of directors. The CIC stands ready to aid ECEDC's efforts, Ferrell said.
"Your county government has been very busy," he said.