As DHL Express prepares to cut up to 9,500 jobs nationally, most of which would come from its hub in Wilmington, the company last week said it would be willing to donate its airport there to a public entity for redevelopment. The 2,200-acre DHL Air Park is currently the largest privately run airport in the county.
The move comes a week after Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said the state would pursue acquisition of the airport “intensively and immediately,” along with a series of other measures intended to blunt the blow to Clinton County.
Strickland warned that DHL’s cuts would reverberate across the state, affecting at least 17 counties and would be felt for years to come. DHL plans to halt all domestic shipping business after the end of January, closing its ground freight operations and its air cargo hub in Wilmington, which currently employs around 7,500 people. The city could lose thousands of additional jobs, up to a 60% overall, as DHL’s related companies and contractors cut positions.
A regional task force is crafting a redevelopment plan for the area that will include the airport, which is estimated to be worth about $62 million. State officials said they would try to retain current DHL contractors ABX Air and ASTAR Air Cargo, at the airport, while attracting new business, such as an aircraft manufacturer and even a passenger flight service, according to local reports.