Columbiana Port Authority Plans ‘Spec’ Building in Leetonia

LISBON, Ohio — The Columbiana County Port Authority Board of Directors is moving forward with plans to construct a 60,000-square-foot speculative building at its industrial park in Leetonia. This week, the board approved seeking funding for the project’s estimated $2.9 million construction cost.

A resolution was passed that grants either Executive Director Penny Traina or Chairman Charlie Presley the authority to sign all closing documents pertinent to financing from the Rural Industrial Park Loan Program.

The state loan program aims to bolster economic development in qualifying rural areas. It offers low-interest direct loans for project development and improvements. The program can finance up to 75% of allowable project costs ranging from $500,000 to $2.5 million. Applicants need to provide at least a 10% matching share. For the initial five years, the loan interest can be as low as zero percent, and payment deferrals on the principal and interest are possible for up to five years.

Traina noted the significant demand for such a structure in Columbiana County.

Over the past 18 months, five spec buildings have been built in the area, with each now occupied by the companies that constructed them. Traina noted the rarity of spec buildings being constructed in the area.

“I would think a manufacturing company would be interested,” she said.

Upon completion, the CCPA may consider leasing or selling the spec building. “It is being built in our shovel-ready park. Infrastructure is already there and doesn’t have to be put into place,” Traina added.

A comprehensive capital stack, including bank financing, the rural loan program and other funding sources, is being assembled for the project. Traina emphasized the project’s priority status for the CCPA.

Local contractor C. Tucker Cope secured the bid for the project. Ground is expected to be broken this fall.

Also at this week’s meeting, Traina received authorization to nominate the first three directors for the countywide Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) Board and to notify Leetonia village officials of these choices. The Leetonia mayor and village council will each appoint an additional member, culminating in a five-member board.

The port authority created the ESID in July 2021, approving at that time a cooperative agreement with the village of Leetonia. The ESID facilitates the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing program. This allows commercial property owners to finance energy improvements and repay through property tax assessments.

Examples of eligible projects include HVAC systems, lighting, roofs, insulation, and even solar and geothermal initiatives.

During the meeting, leases for several CCPA-owned sites were renewed. These include locations for Paragon Integrated Services Group Inc., Humtown Products, The ExOne Company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America Inc., and Portage County Combined Health District.

Lastly, Traina announced a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Global Investment Hub at the Cherry Fork Industrial Park in Leetonia for 1 p.m. on Oct. 27. The CCPA, in conjunction with Youngstown State University, launched the hub to attract businesses, notably in the petrochemical and additive manufacturing sectors.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.