Western Reserve Port Authority to Manage Castlo

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Northeast Ohio Development Finance Authority is taking over management of Castlo Industrial Park.

The Western Reserve Port Authority approved negotiating final terms with Castlo Community Improvement Corp. to take over management of the 120-acre industrial park. The finance authority is the port authority’s finance and economic development arm.

The finance authority already has been engaged with Castlo to assist with operations at the industrial park, said Anthony Trevena, director of the finance authority. Sarah Lown, the port authority’s public finance director, is serving as the point person for the Castlo work.

Of the 120 acres, 65 acres are shovel-ready and available for tenants, the port authority said.

“Castlo is very appreciative to the port authority for stepping up and providing our park with their very able and professional economic development services,” said William Binning, Castlo board president, in a news release announcing the agreement.

Castlo, which has been operating with a part-time manager, Michael Hoza, already had been looking to go in a new direction when recent health issues sidelined Hoza, Binning said in a phone interview. In recent years, the park has invested in site and rail upgrades, he noted.

“We’re doing pretty good but we could do better,” he said. “We’re looking to step up and make a greater contribution to the region, especially our immediate region.”

Under terms of the agreement, details of which are still being finalized, the finance authority would be paid $3,200 per month for the work. Duties would include working with existing tenants, marketing the site to new tenants and negotiating leases, Trevena said. The agreement will be reviewed after six months.

“When we talked about reenergizing the economic development division of the port, this was one of the things that was on our list that we wanted to start to move into,” John Moliterno, the port authority’s executive director, said.

The port authority rebranded the development and finance division earlier this year. “The reason we added and kept ‘development’ [in the new name] was for that exact reason, that we wanted to get into the asset management business, which most port authorities do,” Trevena said.

“It’s a big step for us. It’s a great step for us,” Moliterno said. “We’re very excited about it.”

Binning acknowledged the agreement could extend beyond the six-month term. “So far it’s working out real good. We’re very hopeful,” he said.

Dan Dickten, director of aviation at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which the port authority operates, also told members of the port authority at their regular monthly meeting this morning that he had been informed by Allegiant Air that the airline informed him that it is pulling its flights from Akron-Canton Airport and relocating them to Cleveland.

The growth of Allegiant’s flights at Akron-Canton has been blamed for softer numbers for the flights Allegiant offers at the Vienna Township airport.

Dickten said he received the call from an Allegiant representative around 6:45 a.m. informing him of the move. Later this morning, the airline issued a news release formally announcing it was relocating the four flights from Akron-Canton and adding four more routes to Cleveland. The change will take place Feb. 15.

“We think the extra distance [of the competing flights] away from the Youngstown airport will get them out of our catchment area a little bit more to the west, spread the airports out that are currently providing service so they’re not right on top of each other,” he said. He also expressed optimism that the move eventually could lead to addition service for Youngstown-Warren.

Moliterno said the port authority authorized its legal counsel, attorney Dan Keating, to continuing discussions with Aerodynamics Inc., which operated the short-lived Great Lakes JetExpress service until last month.

“No lawsuits have been filed by either party. There are conversations already going on between the two parties,” Moliterno said. He also noted hat no outside counsel has been retained.

The port authority has not paid the most recent invoice submitted by ADI – $295,675 – for payment from a revenue guarantee fund to assist the airline financially as the service launched. It previously paid invoices totaling $361,714.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.