BEXLEY, OHIO (WOWK) — In a one-on-one interview, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) talks about work in Ohio’s Appalachian counties, economic development in the state and the Bengals vs. Bills game.

DeWine says work continues to ensure that the people of Ohio’s Appalachian counties know that they are not forgotten.

“And, you know, one of the messages that people in Appalachia have given me for many, many years is they think they’re ignored by Columbus and ignored by the politicians, and they’re the forgotten part of Ohio. And I made a pledge to myself that when I was elected, they were not going to be forgotten.”

Part of the way he is doing that is through the $500 million Appalachian Community Grant Program.

“So, one of the things that we have done, and that’s really so important for economic development is to make sure that, you know, every area of the state is upgraded where they need to be in regard to water and sewer. And so, you know, every one of your counties that watch you from Ohio have gotten some money from the state in regard to help in regard to water and sewer,” he said.

“Second, we set aside, along with the legislature, they agreed to it. A half a billion dollars for the 32 counties in Appalachia. And we gave them the option of actually how to spend that money. And they’re now in the process rather than the exciting thing we’re seeing is that communities are coming together and going through the process of discussing, you know, how are we going to spend this money that’s going to come to us?”

Friday, Governor DeWine talked with 13 News Anchor Amanda Barren about his plans to develop sites in Ohio so they are ready and attractive to businesses who want to be located in Ohio. 

He said many of those sites are in Appalachian counties, which are located in southeast Ohio, but span from the farthest northeast corner of the state in Ashtabula County, all the way to Clermont County in the southwest corner.

Gov. DeWine also said that the fact that the new speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives,  Jason Stephens (R-Lawrence County), is a “big deal.”

“Yeah, I’ve had a very good relationship with Jason. He and I, I think, you know, have a very pragmatic approach to what is needed. and I really look forward to working with him in his position as Speaker. It’s a big deal. you know, I think sometimes people don’t realize when they have a speaker from their area how important that is. and he is from Lawrence County, a son of Lawrence County, and it’s going to be helpful not only to Lawrence County, but it’s going to be, frankly, helpful to the entire region,” DeWine said.

Governor DeWine also weighed in on this weekend’s playoff game that will feature Athens’ own Joe Burrow leading the Cincinnati Bengals against the Buffalo Bills.

“I’ll be watching you at home. I wish I would be in Buffalo, but I won’t be. We were at the last Bengals game. We’ve seen a number of games this year. And, you know, they are just a very special team. This is a very exciting team. And maybe the play of the year, you know, was by another Ohioan, [Sam] Hubbard, who made that, you know, ran back 98 yards after picking up the fumble. And so, you know, again, a great, great story, an exciting team. And it’s a team that you know, could go all the way.