Wellsville Intermodal Facility Recommended for Opportunity Zones

Wellsville Intermodal Facility Recommended for Opportunity Zones

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio — The Wellsville Intermodal Facility has been recommended by the state to qualify as one of the nation’s Opportunity Zones.

Penny Traina, executive director of the port authority, along with its fiscal officer, Tad Herold, told the port authority board Monday night that the industrial park is part of a Census tract within the county the port authority submitted to the state for inclusion in the Opportunity Zones program.

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program Congress created late last year in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities across the country.

The program uses the Census tracts that have low-income communities to determine areas eligible for the designation.

The governor of each state has 90 to 120 days from Dec. 22, 2017, to designate up to 25% of the total number of low-income Census tracts in his state as Opportunity Zones.

“In these Opportunity Zones, private investors are eligible to receive tax benefits on unrealized capital gains reinvested in opportunity zones through pooled opportunity funds,” Traina said.

Census tract 9518 in Wellsville is the only site in the county the state recommended for the designation, and the tract includes the port authority’s Wellsville Intermodal Facility.

“We believe the state is probably recommending this tract because of the port authority’s investment in the intermodal facility, which is over $32 million dollars,” Traina said. “It includes its own easy access to state Route 7, two cranes, a conveyor belt and houses five industries.”

Herold added, “The state was looking at riverfront opportunities and places where development has occurred and is likely to occur in the future.”

With the Royal Dutch Shell cracker plant under construction in Monaca, Pa., just 25 miles upriver from Wellsville, and PTT Global’s proposed cracker plant project in Belmont County downriver, “the facility is extremely well-positioned for future shale and cracker play,” Traina said.

The board was also briefed on the economic impact of the potential $4.5 billion East Coast Missile Defense site that 14 members of Ohio’s congressional delegation would like to see housed at the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center.

Vito Abruzzino, executive director of the East Ohio Military Affairs Commission, asked the port authority board for a letter of support for the site, which would house a ground-based midcourse defense system designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“This project would bring about 1,000 short-term jobs and 800 permanent jobs,” Abruzzino said.

Camp Ravenna is one of three sites under review. The other two are Fort Drum in upstate New York and Fort Custer in southern Michigan.

Abruzzino passed around a letter dated March 5 sent to Defense Secretary James Mattis asking the East Coast Missile Defense site be at Camp Ravenna.

Both of senators from Ohio and 14 of the state’s 16 members in the House of Representatives signed the letter.

The letter can be read here.

Abruzzino who’s a resident of Salem hopes that the Columbiana County Port Authority will support the project. “I would love to see my home county in on this effort,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.