Columbiana Port Serves as Economic Catalyst

LISBON, Ohio — Since its inception 43 years ago, the Columbiana County Port Authority has helped the region grow and will be the county’s economic catalyst again in 2020, CEO Penny Traina says. 

“Our focus will be on the shale play up and downstream value chain in the region,” Traina continues. “We will forge ahead with a robust business development outreach program for existing and prospective businesses in order to increase investment in Columbiana County.”

Increasing business activity on the Ohio River and focusing on manufacturing and the petrochemical cluster industry in the region are the port authority’s priorities, Traina says.

“We’re going to be boots on the ground with business development outreach programs,” she says.

Investments last year included state and federal grants totaling $1,353,987. Traina expects to apply for more grants at both the state and federal levels during 2020 to increase awareness of the county internationally while assisting businesses along the Ohio River by applying for assistance from the Ohio Maritime Assistance Program.

Technology figured prominently in the authority’s operations during 2019, including the introduction of a podcast series, “Conversations with Columbiana County,” which provides information about happenings in county government with an emphasis on activities related to economic development.

Working with Kent State University students, the authority helped to develop a comprehensive marketing plan. And, with assistance from the county GIS department, developed a digital interactive map of businesses and services on the Ohio River within Columbiana County. 

Without increasing its staff of three, the port authority accomplished a laundry list of activities that spurred growth in the organization, its services, the workforce and market, according to Traina.

The port authority created the Economic Development Consortium with the Columbiana County Economic Development Department. 

And the port authority facilitated the move of two large ladles from China through the Panama Canal to New Orleans and ultimately to the port authority’s Intermodal Facility in Wellsville to be off-loaded from barges for transport to the Timken Co. in Akron. 

Traina helped create and is vice chairman of the Ohio River Collation, which advocates for commerce, job creation and economic development through the use of the Ohio River as an integral part of the freight transportation network.

Among other collaborations was partnering with the Salem Area Sustainable Opportunity Development Center for two job fairs; joining the 2020 Census Complete Count Committee to increase the response rate; partnering with the Small Business Development Center at the Tuscarawas Campus of Kent State University to provide entrepreneurship training; and holding a roundtable for local government officials on the Community Reinvestment Area designation.  

In November, Traina was inducted into the Association of Ohio Commodores in recognition of her contributions to economic development.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.