Economic Development

Port Authority to Manage Mahoning County CIC

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority will take over management of the Community Improvement Corporation of Mahoning County next month.

The CIC board approved a memorandum of understanding with the port authority during its meeting Thursday morning. It also approved a letter terminating its agreement with the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, which now manages the CIC, effective June 15.

By then, the CIC’s files, applications and other materials are to be released to the port authority’s offices, according to the letter.

In January, the CIC board heard proposals from the port authority, the regional chamber and the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. After that review, the CIC board elected to go with the port authority.

The port authority is not being paid by the county but may charge fees for transactions, John Moliterno, WRPA’s executive director, said. Moliterno and Marty Loney, chairman of WRPA’s board of directors, were added to the CIC board at Thursday’s meeting.

Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti, president of the seven-member CIC board, described the port authority as one of the Mahoning Valley’s “largest economic engines” that has been involved big development projects. He noted that the port authority issued $60 million in to assist Penn National Gaming Inc. with its development of the Hollywood Gaming at Mahoning Valley Race Course racino, which opened in 2014.

The port authority also manages county’s enterprise zone and community reinvestment programs.

“Mahoning County has long seen us as the economic arm of the county,” Moliterno said. “We’re happy to provide additional services to Mahoning County. Operating the community improvement corporation allows us to do that.”

Among the tools the port authority will have to work with will be about $91,000 in U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds commissioners put into the CIC. The port authority will suggest how those finds might best be used to encourage economic development and look at ways to use that as seed money to potentially “get better bang for your buck,” Traficanti said.

The port authority already is involved in tax abatement and tax increment financing programs for the county, Moliterno said. Its role with the CIC will add the ability to provide lending to small businesses, a role community improvement corporations typically play, he said.

“The port authority tends to deal in larger projects,” Moliterno continued. “This will allow us, through the CIC, to be involved in some smaller projects, which will help businesses throughout Mahoning County.”

“We have to help the little guy,” county Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said.

Port authority officials will meet county officials – including representatives of the commissioners and the prosecutor’s office – to put a plan of action together after the contract formally takes effect June 15, Moliterno said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.