Madison Township trustees are hoping to tackle worker transportation issues by joining the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
With a surge in new business investment in the area, specifically near Rickenbacker Airport, trustee Victor Paini said he's been working with Groveport, Canal Winchester and Madison Township business and community leaders, the Central Ohio Transit Authority and MORPC to make sure a lack of inexpensive transit options doesn't slow investment there.
"We've had a couple of discussions to talk about transportation in the area and the fact that employers are struggling to find candidates that can get transportation down to the work site," he said at the trustees' Feb. 19 meeting.
"So we're trying to figure out what their needs are, both for employers and where the workers are, whether this is a season issue or not, and if there are either private or public funds available."
In the past, MORPC only offered membership to incorporated municipalities, not to townships. However, the organization has relaxed that requirement and Madison Township Administrator Susan Brobst said the cost for the township to join MORPC would be about $5,300.
She said the annual fee is based on the population of the unincorporated area of the township.
"MORPC doesn't guarantee, but does anticipate, that we'd receive far more than the $5,300 back in grant funding than we pay annually," Brobst said.
MORPC works with local governments to help them secure state and federal funding for transportation-related projects, including ride share and van pool programs.
"We got to the point where this problem was bigger than what we could wrap our arms around ourselves, so thankfully, MORPC jumped in. They understand the value of the area for high job growth," Paini said. "We expect this area to see between 1,000 and 2,000 new jobs over the coming 18 months."
Groveport officials have already announced they expect an additional 700 jobs will be created by two different retail clothing distributors coming to the area, with more said to be on the way.
"This is not just about getting people to the area from around Columbus. It is also about distributing them to their job sites," Paini said.
"With a winter like we've had, it's hard to imagine all those people walking from a central location. So I'd like to consider joining MORPC to try and leverage their access to resources, starting with their van pool option."
According to Paini, if approved, MORPC would cover the costs of the van pool for six to 12 months until a permanent funding option could be secured.
Trustee Gary McDonald said he could see the value in this, since it could make it even more attractive for businesses to come to or expand in the area.
Brobst said she would work with MORPC to obtain the specifics of joining the organization and, once that is done, put it on the trustees' agenda for a future vote.