ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson and his family made a business from their love of bird watching, and Thompson also counsels other small business on how to succeed.
Now the Republican from Marietta sees new industrial promise coming to East Ohio with the oil and natural gas boom.
Thompson, 49, presently represents the 93rd Ohio House District. But recent redistricting has him running for re-election this year in a new 95th District - which encompasses all of Harrison County and the western communities of Belmont County, as well as Carroll and Noble counties and eastern Washington County.
Thompson is the publisher of Bird Watcher's Digest, a business started and operated by his family for more than 34 years.
Prior to being elected to his first term in the Ohio House in 2010, he served as the area action council chairman for the National Federation of Independent Business Chapter in Marietta, and as a Marietta city councilman.
"It's an exciting time for Ohio ... especially for East Ohio, which is often the neglected, poorer part of state," Thompson said. "I've always said we need to replenish our opportunities, and that has been difficult - up until now. We've always had to make do with our own ingenuity - and create small businesses with four jobs that grow into larger businesses."
Thompson serves on the Education, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Public Utilities committees in the House. And he noted each makes policies that affect job creation and how competitive Ohio is with neighboring states.
"Government doesn't create jobs, but its policies have an impact on whether those jobs are created by anyone else," he said.
Thompson was born in 1963 in Pella, Iowa, where his father, William H. Thompson, served as an administrator at Central College. The elder Thompson was a native of Marietta, and the family moved back to East Ohio in 1971 when he took a job at Marietta College.
Thompson's mother, Elsa, had a love for bird watching, and William Thompson noted there was no magazine or publication dedicated to bird watching at the time. The family started Bird Watchers Digest in 1978.
Meanwhile, Thompson graduated from Marietta High School and returned to Central College to obtain degrees in political science and Spanish. While studying abroad in Spain, he met his wife, Jade, a Texas native.
The couple went on to work in Washington, D.C. Thompson was employed there by the economic think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, and his wife worked for former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas.
The couple returned to Marietta to join the family publishing business after the birth of their first child, Annalea, who is now 21. They also have two sons, Nathaniel, 19, and August, 12.