Six years ago this month in this same space, The Highland County Press heartily encouraged support for the February 2011 proposed expansion at PAS Technologies in Hillsboro.

As we noted at the time, the proposed expansion of PAS Technologies in Hillsboro has a potential annual economic impact of close to $5 million just in additional salaries.

Think about that.

The 2011 proposal included many new jobs, jobs that pay in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. This, for a county that had been devastated by recent job losses that number in the thousands.

In 2010, Highland County's unemployment rate reached 19 percent. The county was among the state's top three highest counties in unemployment for most of last year.

This is why it was imperative that local, state and federal officials worked with PAS management. They did.

Beginning with the input and behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman to former state Sen. Dave Daniels, Rep. Cliff Rosenberger and County Commissioner Shane Wilkin, PAS realized that the support for its jobs in southern Ohio was, in fact, sincere.

Following the mass exodus of jobs at the Wilmington Airpark, Highland County's workers had returned to college, many at Southern State Community College, and resharpened their skills to complement their respective work experience.

The local workforce was retrained, rested and ready for PAS Technologies.

Shortly thereafter, PAS Technologies announced an expansion in Hillsboro that brought 40 new jobs to Hillsboro – with the possibility of more to come.

State and local elected officials met in the spring of 2011 at the Hi-TEC Center in Hillsboro, joined by PAS leaders and community members for the official announcement that the aerospace technologies manufacturer was bringing jobs to Hillsboro.

Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin, who spearheaded the initiative to get all entities working together to bring in the jobs, said, "It's a great day for Highland County. This is one of the times it worked."

Sen. Portman, who got involved with the PAS project in January 2011, said that “being a U.S. senator in these economic times, means working on specific projects to bring jobs to your state.

"In these days, the role of the United States senator needs to be different,” Portman said. “It needs to be rolling up your sleeves and getting involved and trying to help where you can in specific economic development projects.”

Dick Zink, who was mayor of Hillsboro at the time, said that before he became mayor of Hillsboro, he worked in local management manufacturing, and he knows exactly what kind of people PAS will be working with.

"I can vouch for you that the people you are going to put on board are very talented, and the ones who don't have the talent that you need can easily be trained," Mayor Zink said. "I went through that for 29 years, and I know what we've got here. Without everybody's cooperation, we all know that this wouldn't come about. And it just goes to show that when everyone works together for a common goal, that good things can be accomplished."

As we “fast-forward” six years (almost to the day), this week Highland County commissioners Shane Wilkin, Jeff Duncan and Terry Britton congratulated PAS Technologies for its Valentine’s Day announcement of yet another expansion and additional jobs at the Hillsboro facility.

"This was good news," Wilkin said at the Feb. 15 commissioners' meeting. "Since 2011, we have been in almost constant contact with PAS. This is one of our bright spots in Highland County. They're adding 20 new jobs, and we're hoping that that's a minimum."

Moreover, Wilkin said that PAS Technologies is expanding without any new financial commitments from the county.

"We should mention Mark Greene (vice president and general manager of Hillsboro PAS), whose father (Robert Greene) started Hillsboro AeroTesting locally, which morphed into PAS," Wilkin said. "It's important that we recognized Mark Greene and Mr. Hutton (Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hutton).”

Wilkin congratulated Hutton, Greene and all the PAS employees on the positive announcement. He also recognized Rob Cornwell and Tonya Crist of InSite Consulting LLC of Greer, S.C. for their efforts in local economic development, as well as Nicole Oberrecht of the commissioners' office for her work toward industrial park site certification in Leesburg and Greenfield.

It should be noted that Commission President Shane Wilkin has approached the job preservation and additional employment at PAS with a bulldog-like demeanor. Unlike the county’s representatives on the state and federal levels, Wilkin lives here. And he has recognized the devastating impact of a county with a 19-percent unemployment rate not that many years ago.

Six years ago, former Highland County Chamber of Commerce President Katy Farber said that the PAS announcement was about "celebrating tomorrow."

"Today is a celebration of a successful, mutually beneficial relationship between private enterprise and multiple government entities," Farber said. "Today is a recognition of commitment and dedication of business leaders and elected officials alike. Today is about working together to strengthen our local economy. In short, today is about tomorrow."

Tomorrow arrived with this week’s announcement of even more good-paying jobs at PAS Technologies.

For everyone responsible, the community must be appreciative.

As we said in February 2011, we, as a community, need to let this local business know that we appreciate its longtime service, and we want to assist in its potential expansion. Let's make Highland County the first choice for PAS Technologies.

And with today’s news on the site certification of the Leesburg Industrial Park (thanks Nicole Oberrecht), Highland County is, indeed, open for business. Good work, all.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press.