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John Molinaro named to lead economic group

June 3, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

NELSONVILLE - The Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, an emerging regional economic development organization serving the 25-county southeast JobsOhio region, has selected John Molinaro as its president.

Molinaro, currently co-director of the Community Strategies Group at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., will assume his new duties at the APEG on July 1.

Created through funding from a JobsOhio Network Grant, the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth is a subsidiary of the OABC, focused on economic development. The Ohio Appalachian Business Council is the region's first business roundtable and has emerged as a network of businesses focused on addressing regional challenges and supporting the pursuit of regional opportunities. The search for a CEO was led by a committee of the OABC and began in December with listening sessions across the region to gather input from local economic development leaders on the type of leadership and skillsets needed for an APEG CEO to be effective. With assistance form DHR International, an executive search firm specializing in economic development organizations, the committee conducted a national search.

"The themes that evolved from a series of listening sessions held in December were essential to learning what our region's economic development leaders wanted in a CEO," said Dr. David Scholl, OABC board member and search committee chair. "Using this information as our guide, the search committee was highly impressed by the quality and experiences of the candidates with whom we met to discuss the opportunity."

Molinaro, recognized as a leader in growing the economies of rural areas through holistic, sustainable place-based approaches, focused on economic and community development throughout his career. Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, he spent nearly 20 years at the West Central Initiative in Minnesota. He launched the West Central Initiative as a start-up, leading efforts in the realm of business retention and expansion, work force development, fundraising, assistance to manufacturers and regional planning.

For the past six years, he has served as co-director of the Aspen Institute's Community Strategies Group.

Molinar has a master's degree in community and regional planning and is certified as an economic development finance professional.

"The creation of the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth as an economic development resource and partner on a regional scale is an amazing opportunity for Appalachian Ohio," Molinaro said, adding he looks forward "to building a team that will work on a regional economic development strategy that supports the many communities comprising the region and values they play."

He said his first priority will be to "build APEG's partnerships with local economic development professionals and the region's businesses. They have already seen great success in Appalachian Ohio and APEG's role is to build a regional network that adds value to and leverages the work being done so we can all go farther together."

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