LISBON – The Columbiana County Port Authority is completing several projects and moving forward with others aimed at helping area businesses.
“We’ve been definitely crazy busy but in a good way,” says Brittany Smith, assistant executive director.
Working with Youngstown State University, the port authority has developed the Global Investment Hub at its Leetonia site. A grand opening is set for Oct. 27, Smith says.
With YSU economics professor Mousa Kassis at the helm, tenants are being sought for the hub, which is focusing on foreign businesses, specifically in the petrochemical and additive manufacturing fields.
“Our ultimate goal is to have them come to the hub, get free rent for a year, then stay in Columbiana County or our region,” Smith says.
Also underway is construction of a 60,000-square-foot building near the Leetonia industrial park. Contractor C. Tucker Cope plans to break ground this fall.
Smith says the port authority will put together its capital stack for the cost of the building, using bank financing as well as working to obtain Ohio Rural Industrial Park and Ohio Site Inventory Program grant and loan funding.
Meantime, the port authority is again working toward procuring Maritime Assistance Program funding for 2024-2025. Smith says the port authority anticipates submitting at least four funding applications this month for improvement projects at private riverfront terminals in Wellsville and East Liverpool.
Another focus is ongoing recovery efforts for East Palestine businesses following the Norfolk Southern train derailment. Haeden Panezott heads the effort for the port authority. Through the East Palestine Emergency Support Program, he has helped upward of 40 businesses – from small mom-and-pop shops to large industrial operations, Smith says.
And the port authority has been afforded what Smith describes as the “wonderful honor” of helping the county to work on the Appalachian Community Grant program that evolved from Gov. Mike DeWine allocating $500 million to Appalachian counties.
“We’ve been working with all the municipalities and townships, representing the county at the meetings. The goal is to be transformational in a very big project,” Smith says.