A state grant is making the trip to work safer for a Johnstown company's employees.

A state grant is making the trip to work safer for a Johnstown company's employees.

State Sen. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) announced Monday, April 23, the state had awarded a $150,000 Roadwork Development Grant to Johnstown's Thirty-One Gifts, a direct seller of embroidered handbags and other home and gift items.

In 2009 and 2010, the company invested $5.4 million in building, infrastructure and land improvements. It also created 75 new full-time jobs at the Johnstown business park as part of an expansion project.

"I want to commend Thirty-One Gifts for choosing to invest in Johnstown and bringing new jobs to the community," Schaffer said in a news release. "The modifications to U.S. 62 made possible by this grant will benefit Thirty-One Gifts as well as nearby businesses by allowing traffic to flow more freely, and I am happy that these dollars will be used to improve our community and local businesses."

According to the release, the project includes adding a right-turn lane along U.S. Route 62 as well as the installation of a traffic signal at Route 62 and Commerce Drive. These improvements will allow a safer entry and exit of vehicles into the business park and decrease traffic congestion.

Thirty-One Gifts has committed to funding the balance of the roadwork improvement costs.

"This is great news," Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner said.

He said the Roadwork Development Grant was a collaborative effort by Thirty-One Gifts, the village of Johnstown, ODOT and the Ohio

Department of Development to bring the infrastructure upgrade from planning to reality.

"The village is excited to continue our outstanding relationships with our local businesses to assist in any way possible to keep or create jobs in Johnstown," he said.

"This is for a project that should've happened a long time ago," said Megan Gordon, director of economic development for Thirty-One Gifts.

She said the company has been paying for a person to direct traffic at the Route 62 and Commerce Drive intersection. The grant will help to pay for an automated signal that will help all businesses in the park, Gordon said.

"That intersection is dangerous," she said. "We didn't feel it's safe."

She said Thirty-One Gifts agreed to monitor the intersection until funding was available for the traffic light and other upgrades.
Gordon said her company would like to expand operations in the Johnstown business park, but not until several infrastructure issues are addressed, beginning with the intersection.

"Right now, this is step one. It has to be safe," she said, adding the village of Johnstown has worked diligently to help Thirty-One Gifts improve the business park.

"The village has been an amazing partner. We've been working on this together," said Gordon. "We'll get it done."