Economic Development

Wellsville Intermodal Facility Unveils $5.1M Crane System

WELLSVILLE, Ohio – Now that the newest crane at the Wellsville Intermodal Facility is online, the executive director of the Columbiana County Port Authority, Penny Traina, sees a bright future for the town along the Ohio River.

“We hope to make Columbiana County the fourth ‘C.’ With this, we can do it,” she said, referring to Ohio’s three largest economic centers – Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. “This puts Columbiana County on the map and shows we can compete in the economic development world.”

Traina, along with officeholders, contractors and port authority staff, cut the ribbon on the $5.1-million crane and conveyor system Sept. 23. The project was partially funded by a $3.5-million loan from Ohio Development Services, which could be changed to a grant, Columbiana County Commissioner Mike Halleck said.

“This is an illustration of a wise investment on the part of the state government,” said state Rep. Tim Ginter, R-5 Salem. “In an age when people question the investment of government, this is a sterling example of an investment that will bring real jobs, real work, real income to our region.”

The timing of the opening of the new crane comes at an incredibly opportune time, Traina adds, noting the soon-to-begin construction of an ethane cracker plant in Monaca, Pa., just 25 miles upstream from Wellsville, and a proposed cracker plant in Belmont County further downriver.

“We’re poised right in the middle of all that growth,” the director said.

The new Mantsinen 120 HybriLift crane can is capable of lifting about 800 tons of bulk material off of barges every hour. The crane was custom-designed for Wellsville Intermodal, featuring an electric motor and fixed mounts to hold it to its platform in the river. The attached conveyor belt was designed and built by Imperial Technologies, Canton.

“It’s fixed here to do one specific job – putting the material into the hopper,” said Mantsinen sales director Asko Kinnunen, who flew in from Finland for the ribbon cutting. “The first time I was here to see it in operation was in February. It’s always a good feeling to see it [in use].”

As part of a demonstration after the ribbon cutting, a worker showed off what the crane could do, raising it high into the sky before lowering it to pick up a load of water before dumping it back into the river .

Construction of the crane has been in the works for years, says Pier 48 Stevedoring’s owner and president, Larry Heck, and the addition only stands to improve the site.

“It looms like a bright future,” he said. “Knowing the capacity it can do now, I know I can expand. I can put up new warehousing and feed them off directly from the conveyor. … It’ll allow for more labor jobs rather than just bulk transportation.”

Pier 48 is contracted to offload cargo from barges at Wellsville Intermodal. A 60-ton bridge crane sits next to the new bucket crane. With two unloading sites, Pier 48 workers can handle cargo containers with the bridge crane and bulk materials with the Mantsinen crane.

“It’s total efficiency. We can handle much more product all at the same time,” Heck said.

The only things missing, Rep. Ginter said at a lunch after the ceremony and demonstration, is a large sign, perhaps with big, bright letters, exclaiming “JOBS” to let passersby know what’s happening at Wellsville Intermodal Facility.

“That’s what this equals: jobs,” he said. “This would be monumental regardless of where it took place. Anything of this magnitude would be monumental, particularly here. We are crying out for jobs that you can sustain a family on.”

The next step for the Wellsville industrial park, Traina says, is expansion. The port authority is working to better promote the site to draw in new companies and plans to purchase additional property are being discussed.

“We’re looking at expanding and buying more property,” she said. “We don’t necessarily have a five-year plan, but certainly we do have a plan together.”

Pictured: The ribbon cutting for the Wellsville Intermodal Facility’s new Mantsinen 120 HybriLift crane featured a demonstration of its capabilities.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.