Columbiana Port Authority Has Global Aspirations

LISBON – The opening of the Global Investment Hub in Leetonia, assistance for East Palestine businesses affected by the train derailment and improvement grants for Ohio River businesses highlighted a busy 2023 for the Columbiana County Port Authority.

The Global Investment Hub will provide space for international businesses to come to the county as well as provide access to skilled workers and the supply chain, says Penny Traina, executive director of the Columbiana County Port Authority.

The hub, operated in conjunction with the Ohio SBDC-Export Assistance Network at Youngstown State University, offers foreign companies one-year free rent, including Wi-Fi, furnished office space and conference rooms.

Following the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment, the port authority worked with Team NEO and Jobs Ohio and entered into a $50,000, six-month service agreement to assist businesses.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration subsequently approved an extension to a 2021 grant intended for retention, expansion and workforce development. The 36-month grant was extended to 48 months with authority  for the port authority to use an additional $209,678 to assess the economic impact of the derailment.

Led by Haeden Panezott, the port authority assisted more than 30 businesses to apply and obtain Ohio Department of Development funds through the $5 million East Palestine Emergency Support Program.

Elsewhere, the port authority awarded two Maritime Assistance Grants – $1,005,695 to SH Bell in East Liverpool and $422,640 to Quality Liquid Feeds in Wellsville. Each company was required to commit a 50% match to receive the funding,.

SH Bell is expanding an existing dock for unloading barges, which is past its 20-year life span, according to Traina.

QLF will purchase equipment to improve efficiency and its site at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility. It will also create additional storage.

In October, the port authority awarded a $2.978 million bid by C. Tucker Cope to construct a 63,224 square-foot speculative building at the Leetonia Trade Park. The metal building is expected to be completed by fall 2025 and contain space for future industrial expansion, Traina says.

This June should bring the opening of the Inn at Old Saybrook, a 79-unit assisted living center under construction on County Line Road in Columbiana. Developed by EDM Management Inc. and operated by Briarfield Health Care, the center will include 25 memory care units and employ 50. To aid in securing financing, the Columbiana County Port Authority entered into a partnership with the Western Reserve Port Authority, which authorized a $17 million bond.

Other achievements in 2023 include:

• Provided assistance to entities applying for more than $20 million in Appalachian Community Grants.

• Purchased in March, for $300,000, a 5,000-square-foot office building at 7876 Lincole Place in Lisbon.

• Administered Community Development Block Grants for the completion of road projects in Salem and Columbiana.