Columbiana Port Authority Secures More Than $1M in Grants to Start 2022

LISBON, Ohio — Securing and administering grants remains a focus of the Columbiana County Port Authority, and after administrating grants totaling nearly $3.6 million last year, it is starting 2022 on the same course.

Executive Director Penny Traina reported to the board of directors Monday that three Maritime Assistance Program grants totaling $1,113,140 have been secured already this year that will be used to assist three county businesses with on-going projects totaling $2,226,280. The MAP grants provide 50% of the project, with each recipient responsible for a 50% match.

One recipient, Pier 48 Stevedoring LLC, located in the Wellsville Intermodal Facility on the Ohio River, will receive $60,000 in MAP funding toward a $120,000 purchase of two new skid steers for the business.

The S.H. Bell Company in East Liverpool, also on the Ohio River, will receive a $630,500 MAP grant to assist with a $1.261 million project entailing the purchase of a cable boom crane.

At Quality Liquid Feeds, also located in the Wellsville Intermodal Facility, $422,640 in MAP funding will be used toward an $845,280 project involving equipment acquisition, property improvements, production efficiency, additional storage and product protection. This will entail a new man lift, new fork lift, storage building, 4,000-pound capacity barge line hoist, steam boiler, concrete slab for storage, boring lines for offloading of molasses and an air compressor with dryer.

Traina reminded the board that, when the Ohio General Assembly enacted the MAP, it was the first significant source of Ohio Department of Transportation funding dedicated in decades exclusively to water-based freight infrastructure. The port authority was successful in the first round of funding, receiving more than $1.4 million for three local river companies. The grants allow port authorities to increase the capability of cargo handling to facilitate commerce in this rapidly growing region, she said.

“The program is so successful, they put another $23 million in for round two,” Traina said.

Columbiana County moved 2.3 million tons of cargo on the Ohio River in 2018, Traina reported. With this round of funding, grant applicants had to show how projects involved movement of cargo from river to land.

In response to receipt of the MAP grants, the board approved unanimously a resolution authorizing preparation and execution of all grant agreements with ODOT. Traina commended her team for the efforts it puts forth in securing these grants.

Assistant Executive Director Brittany Smith reported the port authority has partnered with the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition and the Columbiana County Educational Service Center to apply for funding through the Ohio Department of Development’s Industry Sector Partnership program.

The partnership was one of 13 selected statewide to receive $250,000 from the competitive program to be used for outreach efforts to populations under-represented in manufacturing, Smith said. The ultimate goal of the program is to meet the demand of a well-trained and diverse workforce for this region.

At Traina’s request, the board voted in favor of a pilot business loan program to assist those businesses that find themselves short on funding sources when trying to expand. Although there are revolving loan funds and other sources, Traina said the port authority is finding some business owners are not qualifying after they have exhausted those and their own resources, leaving a small funding gap that leaves them unable to qualify for state grants.

“We’re not talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she assured the board, saying the funding gaps are generally small ones.

Economic Development Director Tad Herold referred to a specific business apparently being assisted by the County Improvement Corp. that, due to some “unique aspects of a project,” finds itself with a funding gap

“We’d like to help,” Herold said.

By approving the pilot program, Traina emphasized, the board was not approving loaning any money at this time, just allowing guidelines of such a program to be devised.

In other business, the board approved a resolution awarding a $144,800 bid to Guy’s Mechanical Systems Inc. of Rochester, Pa. for HVAC improvements at the port authority’s industrial building on Cherry Fork in Leetonia. Traina said this is the second stage of the energy upgrade at the facility, to be paid with a 2019 Appalachian Regional Commission grant, which was delayed due to the COVID pandemic.

Officers for 2022 were re-elected to their existing positions: Chairman Charlie Presley, Vice Chairman Keith Chamberlain, Secretary Nick Amato and Fiscal Officer Tad Herold.

Regular meetings for 2022 have been changed from monthly to 5 p.m. the fourth Monday every other month, starting in January.

Pictured: The Columbiana County Port Authority Board of Directors re-elected during Monday’s meeting are Chairman Charlie Presley, Vice Chairman Keith Chamberlain, Secretary Nick Amato and Treasurer Tad Herold.

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