Ohio University is Leading Appalachia Out of the Economic Woods

[excerpt from ConnectEd]

October 4, 2013

If you were an entrepreneur living in southeastern Ohio 15 or 20 years ago, your first order of business might have been to relocate to Columbus, Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.

Not anymore. Over the past decade, an elaborate ecosystem of entrepreneurial services and activities has blossomed around Ohio University, aided in part by a strategic, modest investment of state money called the Appalachian New Economy Partnership (ANEP).

The Appalachian New Economy Partnership Blooms

The ANEP first appeared during Governor Bob Taft's administration as a single line-item in the state budget with the stated purpose to "link Appalachia to the new economy." It was a relatively low-stakes approach to economic development in the region that the state hadn't really tried before. In the ensuing years, that line item has gradually shrunk from its original $1.5 million to its current $747,366, but it's managed to survive both a major recession and three different gubernatorial administrations.

There's a reason it continues to be funded. Ohio University and its various business partners have expertly turned ANEP funding into a network of programs and services that continue to expand and provide an undeniably positive impact to the regional and state economy.

"The ANEP has been instrumental in building a couple of things," said Dr. Mark Weinberg, director of Ohio University's Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. "The most important thing has been building an entrepreneurial, venture capital, innovation platform for developing technology and companies in a region that just didn't exist before."

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