Columbiana Port Authority Welcomes First Global Hub Tenant

LISBON, Ohio – Just short of three months after being formally opened by the Columbiana County Port Authority, the Global Investment Hub has its first tenant.

The port authority’s board of directors voted during its monthly meeting Monday to enter into a lease agreement with Humtown Pattern Co. as its first tenant in the GIH, which opened Oct. 27 in Leetonia, a collaboration between the port authority and the Ohio Small Business Development Center Export Assistance Network at Youngstown State University.

Humtown Pattern currently operates its 3D business in a large portion of the 105,000-square-foot GIH building, which formerly housed the National Rubber Manufacturing Co.

The one-year lease with Humtown for office No.1 goes into effect Feb. 1 at no rental cost to the company, which does have to employ a YSU intern for an academic year. 

The GIH consists of six furnished private offices, three conference rooms, a large co-working space and a kitchen and is being made available to international companies to interest them in establishing roots in the region. 

Penny Traina, executive director of the port authority, said Humtown Pattern currently has many international partners, and the port authority’s partners at YSU are working diligently with other international companies to bring them in as tenants. 

Also approved during the meeting was the award of more than $376,000 in Maritime Assistant Grants to two businesses along the Ohio River. The grants are 50 percent from the state with a 50 percent match required from the company, with the port authority putting up the local share and being reimbursed by the state.

Pier 48 will receive $72,627 to replace an old pedestrian bridge with a new, safer equipment-friendly bridge that Traina said will enable the company to use forklifts and skid steer equipment, allowing more cargo to be moved.

Quality Liquid Feed will receive $303,404 for a stage facility that will allow for the movement and storage of more molasses and feed, plus additional by-product, adding about 6,000 tons of additional storage capacity. 

Saying the existing storage tanks are more than 20 years old, Traina said this grant is a “big investment for their main product: feed for the agriculture industry.”

Since beginning the Maritime Assistant Grants program, the port authority has secured $3,219,866 in grant funding for private terminals on the Ohio River, Traina said.

“We certainly appreciate the opportunity to work with our partners at ODOT and the state Legislature, because without their vision in providing this new funding to move cargo on the Ohio River, it wouldn’t be possible,” Traina advised the board.

She provided board members with correspondence from S.H. Bell officials reporting on the final stage of a dock rehabilitation project the East Liverpool riverside facility has undertaken with Maritime Assistant Grants funding and thanking her, the port authority, the Ohio Department of Transportation and others for their assistance in making the project possible.

The board also authorized Traina to enter into contract negotiations with Woolpert Inc. for a feasibility study regarding construction of a bike trail from the Little Beaver Creek Greenway Trail East Extension Parking Lot, on state Route 154 east of Lisbon, to the Point of Beginning in East Liverpool, near the Pennsylvania state line. 

Traina said the purpose of the study is to establish a route that could serve as a blueprint for future construction projects and assist in securing funding for such construction.

She told board members the port authority had been asked to take the lead in the county’s Appalachian Community Grant Program. During planning, the Greenway Trail project was discussed, but due to the program time line, it was impossible to include it in the final request. But they still want to help with a feasibility study so funding can be sought elsewhere, Traina said.

For that reason, she said a portion of $175,000 in technical assistant funds received from the state as part of the program will be used for the study.

The board also authorized Traina to execute a notice to proceed to the contractor for the port authority’s spec building project in the Leetonia World Trade Park only after funding of the project has been received. 

The board recently authorized the issuance and sale of not more than $4.5 million in industrial development revenue bonds for the project, and Traina said once the bonds are signed, this action by the board will allow the project to move forward.

Traina said she was “humbled and honored” to be asked to sit on a steering committee being put together by the Ohio Department of Transportation to conduct an Ohio Maritime Plan for the state’s maritime transportation system, which includes both Lake Erie and the Ohio River. 

The steering committee will be composed of statewide maritime planning, policy and operations professionals and state agency representatives to provide input on the plan’s development, process and outcomes, according to Traina.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.