Amid COVID-19, CCPA Pursues $2.9M in Grants

LISBON, Ohio — One of the 2020 goals cited for the Columbiana County Port Authority was to actively seek grant funding wherever possible, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic creating some restrictions, that goal is already being pursued.

During a port authority board meeting Monday conducted via conference call among members and the media, Executive Director Penny Traina reported her staff has been active while adhering to stay-at-home orders set down by Gov. Mike DeWine.

Staff is working at home and holding conference calls three times weekly in response to the governor’s orders, Traina said, but they have nonetheless been able to apply for seven grants totaling nearly $2.9 million aimed at economic development projects, even though the pandemic struck just as some of the application deadlines loomed.

Among those is $1,528,432 from the Ohio Maritime Assistance Program for three projects submitted for companies along the Ohio River to increase cargo capacity on the river, Train said. Because of nondisclosure agreements with those companies, Traina could not yet discuss which businesses are involved until the grants are approved.

On Monday, the board approved a resolution authorizing Traina to prepare and submit an application for $493,550 from the Rural Business Development Grant through the United States Agricultural Department. The monies would be for renovations to the Cherry Fork Industrial Park in Leetonia, including the facade and parking.

Another $650,000 capital budget request was made to the state for the renovation project at Cherry Fork, which Traina said has currently been “put on hold.”

Also submitted was a $77,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for energy upgrades, including lighting and HVAC, at the industrial park. The Port Authority has $488,145 in matching funds from other grants, loans, in-kind and/or local funds for the renovations, including roof replacement.

“The building is very sound but needs some additional work. It’s just to improve and update what’s there,” Traina said.

Another grant sought is a $150,000 Ohio Industry Sector Partnership Grant to assist with professional development to provide a stable career pathway for students and to help educate parents on manufacturing careers.

“We have been busy. (We have) fingers crossed that we get selected for these grants,” Traina told the board.

She and her staff were commended by Chairman Charles Presley for their “continuous activity under adverse conditions,” with Traina offering a “special thanks” to the port authority for its efforts.

Referencing the Cherry Fork Industrial Park renovation project, Traina also reported that a large pit in the floor has been filled, which added an additional 25,000 square feet of usable workspace to the building.

She said this will enable Humtown Products, Columbiana, to expand its 3D printing facilities to the facility.

After the meeting, Traina said the pit had been used previously when the Mitsubishi company had rented the 103,000-square-foot building for it operations, using it to accommodate a crane.

Pictured: The Cherry Fork Industrial Park renovation project has filled a large pit in a building there, adding 25,000 square feet of usable workspace.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.