Licking County's new Community Improvement Corp. elected officers and set its meeting schedule at its first meeting earlier this month.

Licking County's new Community Improvement Corp. elected officers and set its meeting schedule at its first meeting earlier this month.

And on May 21, the Grow Licking County Community Improvement Corp., or CIC, will be coming to Johnstown. Village Manager Jim Lenner, a CIC board member, said the board decided to meet at 9 a.m. the third Monday of each month at various locations around the county, and May will be Johnstown's turn.

The CIC is a coordinated "front door" approach to economic development proposed to prepare Licking County to compete for jobs and development both locally and globally. The goal is to create one entity that gives site speculators and developers a full package of information about any building site in the county.

Lenner said membership in the CIC will save the village money while helping to market Johnstown's development assets, such as the Johnstown Industrial Park.

The industrial park is home to businesses such as Tech International, Thirty-One Gifts, Star Pizza Box, Mohawk Industries, Atrium Corp., and Steel Ceilings, among others, but there are also roughly 180 acres of undeveloped land.

The village, Lenner said, needs "to make sure the site is shovel-ready," installing appropriate infrastructure such as roads and utilities so new businesses can move in with the least amount of hassle. Lenner said he's working with an engineer to decide how and where infrastructure should be installed and how to finance it.

The CIC is in the process of selecting a director of development to help Licking County entities attract new developers and retain existing businesses.

"We've pledged for three years, $10,000" for a total of $30,000, he said. If the village hired a full-time director of development it would have to pay that person roughly $60,000 to $80,000 per year.

"(The CIC) is a great opportunity for the village," he said.

Lenner is most excited about the director of development's ability to advertise the industrial park.

"Right now, it's me," he said, and he just doesn't have the time to meet with potential developers and speculators properly.

The CIC's director of development should prove to be a "real help" to Lenner, said Cheri Hottinger, Licking County Chamber of Commerce president and CIC vice chair, helping him market the industrial park.

"I'm not sure that's really been done in the past," she said.

Hottinger said she's aware of the Johnstown Industrial Park's infrastructure needs.

"I think we can help them with that," she said. "There are some really nice companies out there. We want to keep them happy, too."

Hottinger emphasized that retaining existing Licking County businesses and helping them expand is just as much the CIC's job as attracting new businesses.

The CIC will be "in round two" of interviewing director of development candidates this week, she said, and she hope to have someone hired soon.

Also during the Feb. 6 meeting Licking County commissioner Tim Bubb was named CIC chair; Hottinger vice chair; Mid Ohio Development Corp. vice president Larry Parr, treasurer; and Heath Mayor Mark Johns, secretary.

The CIC passed a three-year projected budget and established marketing, finance, and strategic planning committees.

"It was a pretty productive meeting," Hottinger said. The next meeting is March 19 at the Licking County Administration Building.