Lease Brings ‘Economic Consortium’ Step Closer

LISBON, Ohio — A lease agreement approved by the Columbiana County Port Authority board of directors will help form an economic consortium between the authority and the county Department of Development, officials said.

At its board meeting Monday evening, the port authority voted in favor of a resolution authorizing a one-year lease agreement between the port authority and the department of development, or DOD, for about 1,090 square feet of office space at 7860 Lincole Place, the current port authority headquarters. Board member Tad Herold, who is executive director of the DOD, abstained from the vote.

The lease, in effect retroactively from July 1 of this year until June 30, 2020, will cost the DOD $1,200 monthly, which includes rent, electric, gas, telephone, internet, water and sewer, trash service, cleaning services, HVAC, maintenance and repairs.

The office space is part of about 14,250 square feet encompassing the building that once housed the Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association. In November 2018, the port authority moved into the building from its former headquarters in Leetonia.

Herold told he board the building at 130 Maple St., where the DOD and been operating, still houses the county’s parks and planning departments, but “the departments of economic development have completely moved up here,” he said.

After the meeting, Herold said the county commissioners own the Maple Street building, and that while the department did not pay rent there, it did pay for internet, maintenance and other services.

“I’m not sure (the $1,200 lease fee) will be a wash, but it will be pretty darned close,” Herold said, adding he feels the cost is commensurate with what others pay for office space.

Port authority Executive Director Penny Traina said the move was “one of the final stages in forming an economic consortium” between the two agencies. “We’re happy to have them on board,” she added.

With both agencies in the same building, calls are already being answered more quickly, Traina said. “We’ve become a one-stop shop for economic development,” she told the board.

During her report, Traina told board members she was pleased with the outcome of a Community Reinvestment Act roundtable hosted last month for cities and villages in the county. The 13 attendees learned how start a CRA in their communities and Traina said she was most impressed with the attendees’ willingness to share information.

“We always talk about that Mason-Dixon line in the county,” Traina said, adding she did not see any division among those who attended the roundtable.

“No one was holding their cards close to their vest, but were sharing,” Herold added.

Salem has had a CRA since 1984, while Columbiana is in the beginning stages but marketing it aggressively, Herold said. Others are just getting started and others are not as aggressive, he said.

Calling it a “very successful event,” Traina said other roundtables will be scheduled in the future.

The Ohio Council of Port Authority has been “working closely” with the Office of Ports and Waterways, which has agreed to provide a speaker at the next Ohio Council of Port Authority meeting July 25 in Columbus, Traina said. She will attend the meeting, which will focus on how to strategically use locations along an inland waterway to spur increased industrial activity to help stimulate economic development by using the broad powers of port authorities.

“We are excited to also have Mark Locker from the Ohio Department of Transportation and Mat Dietrich from the Ohio Rail Development Commission as speakers for the event,” she said.

Traina advised that the county port authority has received exemption from the Ohio Department of Taxation for real property taxes on its building at Lincole Place, effective with the 2019 tax year. Also, the 2017-2018 audit is complete and has been sent to the state auditor for review, after which it will be released, she reported.

In other legislative action during the meeting, the board approved unanimously a resolution amending its employee policy manual, which Traina called “housekeeping items.” The manual has been updated over a three-year period and other changes will be made as other policies are reviewed and counsel obtained, she said.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting will be at 5 p.m. Aug. 26.

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