Pictured: Van Wert County Economic Development Director Cindy Leis and Van Wert County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger
Pictured: Van Wert County Economic Development Director Cindy Leis and Van Wert County Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger

VAN WERT — Economic Development efforts in Van Wert County are continuing this year, despite the cutting of ties between the county and Ohio State University Extension.

The Van Wert County Commissioners announced Thursday that the had received a reply from OSU Extension agreeing to allow the county to leave the contract which set up the agreement which established the current Economic Development Office.

“We got a reply from OSU Extension saying they would consent to let us out of the contract and would waive the one-year wait requirement. It’s also the commissioners’ understanding that this terminates the contract,” stated Commissioner Thad Lichtensteiger.

However, the office remains open and running as usual, according to Van Wert County Economic Development Director Cindy Leis. She told the Times Bulletin that an amendment to the agreement between the City of Van Wert and OSU Extension would be soon added to the contract to allow for the county’s exit.

“We are starting the year a little short financially, but we hope to find a third partner to take up the rest of the agreement,” Leis said.

In December the commissioners announced that they were pulling out of the agreement with OSU Extension despite there being a clause requiring a one-year waiting period to terminate the contract. In the recent letter, OSU Extension decided to forgo the waiting period even though that organization believed it was still enforceable.

The Economic Development Office is 90 percent funded between OSU Extension and the hotel-motel tax collected through the City of Van Wert. That leaves only 10 percent of the funding to be picked up by another entity. Which organization may join the contract with OSU Extension remains to be seen. But for the foreseeable future, Leis is still working toward marketing the county to potential new employers and helping existing businesses. She is already planning an event for January to highlight new programs available through the Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Meanwhile the commissioners will be moving in a different direction with economic development, but details have not been made public.
“We have what we believe is a solid plan for economic development,” Lichtensteiger revealed. “We will unveil it in the near future.”