OEDA Excellence in Economic Development Marketing: How APEC Used GIS Mapping to Enhance the Ohio River Site

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In this article, we will delve into the innovative approach taken by the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEC) to inventory and market the economic development assets in the Appalachian counties of Ohio. Specifically, we will explore how APEC utilized GIS mapping to gather and present comprehensive information on the Ohio River site, a crucial resource for attracting large-scale industrial projects. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of the significant role played by GIS mapping in economic development and how it has positioned Ohio as an attractive destination for major industries.

Step 1: Establishing the First-Ever Regional Economic Development Organization

APEC, founded in 2011, was tasked with the responsibility of becoming the first-ever regional economic development organization serving the Appalachian counties of Ohio. Economic development cannot be achieved without making economic sense, and therefore, one of the primary tasks at hand was to inventory the economic development assets in the region.

Step 2: Recognizing the Untapped Potential of the Ohio River

During the inventory process, it became evident that the Ohio River was an underutilized asset that had been overlooked by the state of Ohio. Although there were available sites along the river, there was a lack of consistent and reliable information about these sites. To address this issue, APEC collaborated with two engineering firms to gather comprehensive information about the Ohio River sites.

Step 3: Leveraging GIS Mapping for Enhanced Site Information

APEC decided to utilize GIS mapping capabilities to present the collected information in a user-friendly and easily accessible format. The focus was on consolidating land information, utility information, and transportation information into a single platform. The goal was to create a one-stop website where site selectors and potential customers could gather all the necessary information about the river sites.

Step 4: The APEC River Site Web Portal

The APEC River Site web portal was designed to provide an interactive and high-tech experience for users. Visitors to the website could search for specific sites and find detailed information using a GIS-based web viewer. This viewer not only displayed environmental information, but also infrastructure details and demographic data. By combining all the information in one location, APEC ensured that users could easily access and evaluate the suitability of a particular site for their industry.

Step 5: The Importance of the Ohio River in Economic Development

The Ohio River plays a critical role in Ohio’s economic development, particularly when it comes to attracting large-scale heavy industrial projects. These projects have the potential to be game-changers for the state’s economy. Therefore, by providing comprehensive information on the river sites, APEC has equipped Ohio with a competitive edge in the race to secure major industrial investments.

Step 6: Collaboration and Recognition

The success of the river site project was a result of collaborative efforts from various stakeholders. Buckeye Hills contributed technical expertise and a fresh perspective on presenting the sites. APEC forged strong partnerships with local communities and received support from Jobs Ohio and other county partners. The combined efforts of these entities have contributed to the overall success of economic development in Ohio.


In conclusion, APEC’s utilization of GIS mapping to enhance the Ohio River site is a shining example of innovative economic development marketing. By providing a comprehensive and easy-to-use platform for site selection, APEC has positioned Ohio as an attractive destination for major industrial projects. The collaborative efforts and dedication of all involved stakeholders have played a crucial role in the success of this project. With the Ohio River now at the forefront of economic development in Ohio, the future looks promising for the state’s economy.

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