Economic Development

World Trade Park Houses Plant Expansions

LEETONIA, Ohio – Most land in the Columbiana County Port Authority’s World Trade Park in Leetonia sat vacant for years, with only six of its 21 lots used. That is, until the port authority and the Columbiana County Development Department moved their headquarters into the park under one roof in May.

The move helped the development agency market the vacant land in the park as visitors came to the new headquarters.

“We have taken more calls and seen more traffic coming through our doors,” says Penny Traina, executive director of the port authority. “As we market the port authority and the development department together, we are starting to get the word out there that we are under one umbrella and that we intend on being a large economic powerhouse in Columbiana County.”

The two agencies are anticipating to move out of the World Trade Park and into a space in Lisbon this month, where Traina expects to see even more business since the offices will be in the county seat.

While these entities prepare to move out of the park, more than 140 jobs are expected to arrive at the park over the next two years. Haltec Corp. has a tentative agreement to move into the port authority’s building and Pennex Aluminum Co. is adding on to its current facility.

Before the World Trade Park was established, the site consisted of 105 acres of vacant farmland, which the port authority purchased in January 1995 from J&S Land Co. for $127,504.71 in the hopes of building the industrial park and bringing more companies to Columbiana County.

“At the time, we were looking for an investment to create an industrial park,” says Glenda Schafer, the Columbiana County Port Authority’s executive assistant. “There were big ideas of much bigger companies just like what’s going on now with Pennex expanding.”

After the land was purchased, the port authority took out a $700,000 loan to get the park shovel-ready for businesses, which included putting in utility lines, roads and water sewers.

“Those improvements allow industries to come in at a less expensive rate, so companies don’t have to incur the costs of getting a shovel-ready site themselves,” Traina says.

Other incentives include land zoned for industry, inclusion in foreign trade and enterprise zones that make tax incentives available and easy access to state Routes 11 and 344, Traina says.

The park’s first tenant, General Extrusions Inc., arrived in 2000 and its building is now occupied by Pennex Aluminum Co.

In addition to Pennex, the World Trade Park houses Humtown Products, and once the port authority and county economic development department move out, Haltec Corp. will be moving in.

Haltec, a supplier of tire valves and related accessories, signed a tentative agreement with the port authority in August to purchase approximately 17 acres of land for $2.23 million. The agreement includes two lots in the park as well as the port authority’s building at 120 Industry St., which also houses Humtown.

Haltec is expected to create up to 75 jobs.

Humtown Products prints large, complex sand cores and mold packages for the foundry industry. The building is 19,445 square feet, Traina says. Haltec will assume the lease with Humtown.

“The World Trade Park is ideal for Haltec to expand, as it is a foreign trade zone, and is located just two miles from state Route 11 and eight miles from the I-76/80 interchange west of Youngstown,” says Todd Dow, director of procurement for Haltec. “Over 25% of the company’s sales are exported.”

The company anticipates closing on the property this month.

Meantime, Pennex Aluminum is seeing more business as the automotive industry transitions from steel to aluminum.

Automotive manufacturers “need more aluminum extrusions and parts for vehicles as they continue to lightweight the automobile,” says Mark Mantooth, president of Pennex Aluminum.

On Sept. 14, the company closed on its agreement to purchase six additional lots in the World Trade Park where it will expand onto its operations.

“We plan to hire 68 employees over the next two years,” Mantooth says. “We already have a facility there that employs about 180 people today.”

Pennex now owns more than 35 acres of land in the park.

With eight lots still vacant in the park, Traina says she’ll continue to be “boots on the ground” to let people know there are shovel-ready sites in Columbiana County available for businesses.

“We are working diligently on selling the rest of the lots,” Traina says. “We have not had a great deal of activity in the industrial park for many years so we’re very excited as we move forward with Haltec and the Pennex expansion.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.