Economic Development

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Traina Outlines Columbiana Port Authority’s Progress

December 4, 2018

LISBON, Ohio – The Columbiana County Port Authority held its first monthly meeting Monday in its new headquarters at 7860 Lincole Place, here where Penny Traina, executive director and CEO, said she expects to see more business.

Traina reflected on the financial progress the port authority has made since 2016. “The last two years can be summarized in a few words: In the face of significant challenges, we have made significant progress,” she said.

Traina thanked her staff for their commitment and patience during the last two years. “Obviously without them, moving the port authority headquarters twice in six months this year would not have been possible,” she said.

In April, the port authority agreed to sell its headquarters at 1250 St. George St. in East Liverpool to Heritage Transport for $2 million. From there, the port authority moved to 120 Industry St. in the World Trade Park in Leetonia and ended up selling that space in August to Haltec Corp. for $2.23 million and moving to Lisbon.

Moving its headquarters has helped reduce the port authority’s costs and the amount of unoccupied space in its building.

At the beginning of 2018, when its headquarters were in East Liverpool, half the building was unoccupied. At the building in Leetonia, 68% of the space was unoccupied. In Lisbon, the port authority’s headquarters building is 100% occupied.

Since Dec. 31, 2016, the port authority has increased its cash flow by $1,164,408, or 28%, Traina said.

“One thing of concern to me when I took the job was our debt,” Traina said. “So I’m happy to report due to the sale our real estate and tightening things up in house, we reduced our outstanding principal debt by $2,435,064, or 70%.”

The major portion of the port authority’s debt came from a loan it borrowed on its building in Leetonia on Industry Street. The past principle and interest payment was $210,000 annually and that payment is now reduced to $47,357, Traina noted.

Other debt the port authority still has is from the Mantsinen crane at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility of $426,102, which the port authority expects to pay until 2026.

At the meeting, the board of directors approved an amendment to the business loan from Farmers National Bank of Canfield, which was borrowed in Feb. 13, 2015. The original amount of $3,007,000 has been reduced to a balance of $600,000 due to the real estate sales.

The port authority’s move from Leetonia to Lisbon has also created jobs for Columbiana County, Traina noted.

Haltec will move 135 employees from its operations in Butler Township to Leetonia and hire an additional 75 employees at the Leetonia building, with an estimated investment of $10 million plus $3 million in equipment.

Pennex Aluminum Co., which purchased six additional lots from the port authority in the World Trade Park in September, is expecting to hire 65 more employees with an estimated investment of $35 million in the county.

“There is ample evidence we are moving forward on the course we set two years ago to transform the port authority and focus on our strategy to help our region grow, prosper and take advantage of the industrial revolution and economic growth that we see on the horizon,” Traina said.

Looking ahead, Traina said the port authority anticipates a 15% reduction in its operational costs from the past year.

For 2019, the board of directors approved a budget for $973,322 of expenditures and $785,891 in revenue, which is the closest the port authority has come to making a profit, said the agency’s manager for administration and finance, Diane Ksiazek.

“We’re looking at exciting times and I think we’ll be able to move that needle from the red zone to the green zone,” Traina added. “With the economic growth we see on the horizon we’re here to improve the lives of the citizens of Columbiana County and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.