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Voinovich School’s PORTSfuture Program receives 2023 NADO Impact Award

The PORTSfuture project led by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service has received a national award for its transformational work.

The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) recently recognized its 2023 Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award recipients at their annual training conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on Nov. 8. In the infrastructure category, an award was presented to the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service’s PORTSfuture Project.

The annual Impact Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional economic development and improving quality of life. The 2023 class of awardees comprised 107 projects from 71 organizations spanning 28 states.

Voinovich School Dean Tracy Plouck welcomed the NADO awardees to the reception and congratulated the team.

“I was very pleased to attend the NADO event that celebrated PORTSfuture and the other national award winners,” Plouck said. “The Voinovich School’s longstanding leadership and support of this project exemplifies our credibility and results-oriented approach within the region and state.”

The Impact Award in the infrastructure category acknowledges the PORTSfuture Program’s transformational work leading redevelopment efforts for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon, Ohio. 

The Voinovich School has engaged with numerous local, regional and federal partners to repurpose the site, aiming to turn the former plant into a multi-use manufacturing and energy complex that stimulates economic growth and generates well-paying jobs for the region — to date, the program has been awarded over $14 million in grant funding since the program began in 2010. 

Led by Stephanie Howe, director of energy programs and director of human capital at the Voinovich School, the PORTSfuture Program was created through investments by DOE to fund work to support the Southern Ohio Diversification Initiative (SODI) site reindustrialization efforts.

Howe said the award is a great honor after many years of work on the program in collaboration with partners like the DOE and SODI.

“Our work has been made possible by the DOE Office of Environmental Management Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office’s generous investment and commitment to leveraging the Ohio DOE site for future regional economic prosperity,” she said. “Through cleanup activities, asset transfer, and real property transfer, DOE continues to support SODI’s mission.”

The redevelopment will launch with Trillium H2 Power, LLC (tH2), a Newpoint Gas company, building its $1.585 billion h2Trillium Energy and Manufacturing (h2TEAM) complex, which will transform the land from the former DOE PORTS facility into an integrated decarbonized hydrogen power generation and closed-loop manufacturing facility. The facility will produce clean ammonia and clean silicon. 

During the construction phases, an estimated 2,600 jobs will be created and an estimated 532 operations and maintenance jobs will result. Additional developers who are planning projects at the site include Oklo, an advanced small modular nuclear reactor company that will produce zero carbon power, and a global energy company planning large-scale battery storage for renewable energy solar arrays in the region.

Howe also noted the impact that colleagues at the Voinovich School and other site reindustrialization partners, including private industry developers, organized labor, economic development entities, elected officials, community-oriented groups, state and federal agencies, consultants and many others involved in this public/private partnership, have had on its success.

“Each are vital to our success and deserve to be included in this honor,” she said. “Great things happen when talented folks come together for the greater good.”

For more information about the 2023 NADO awardees, visit the NADO website.

November 17, 2023
Tre Spencer