Development partnership OKd among cross-river agencies

STEUBENVILLE -The Jefferson County Port Authority unanimously agreed to participate with the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle and the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission to apply for a $600,000 brownfield grant application from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pat Ford, executive director of the BDC, said his board of directors already approved the collaboration for the grant application and asked the Port Authority directors to approve the joint application. “You have local successes and we have had local successes so why not work with us and the BHJ to go after this grant? The grant will be used for assessment of brownfield sites in Jefferson, Hancock and Brooke counties. I believe this coalition will be one of the models in the country,” said Ford. Article Photos PARTNERS IN DEVELOPMENT — The Jefferson County Port Authority board of directors agreed to collaborate with the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle and the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission Tuesday to seek a federal grant for the assessment of area brownfield sites for future development. Chatting after the authority meeting were, from left, BHJ Executive Director Mike Paprocki; Domenick Mucci, Steubenville mayor and director of the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission; BDC Executive Director Pat Ford and BDC Assistant Director Marvin Six. — Dave Gossett   “We are going after what I consider a very sexy grant. It bodes well for us to go after the grant and it sends a very strong message to the U.S. EPA. And the model we are approving should be used to go after other resources in the future. It will be three counties, two states, two economic development agencies and two different EPA regions. I am very excited about this. We now have the people in place to make this take off,” continued Ford. “We will be able to identify brownfield sites and turn them into shovel-ready sites. The more ready we are for potential developers the better off we will be. Strength in numbers is an important part of this. There will be a lot of paperwork and administrative paperwork. The BHJ has already agreed to handle the administrative work,” said Ford. “The BDC has obtained $2.5 million in EPA grant money to get $70 million in private money. Our success stories include a former pottery in Newell, former football stadiums in Chester and Weirton, a glass factory and a former corrugating plant in Brooke County. We need to focus on the larger collaboration to do more projects in the future,” declared Ford. Jefferson County Commissioner Dave Maple said the collaboration will look to other opportunities. “But we should be very careful as we work through this and be ready to take the next step,” Maple said. “Collaboration is very important. The Benedum family is giving millions of dollars for collaboration efforts. We are all one area and I am strongly in favor of some type of collaboration,” noted Board member Jim Emmerling. “It is a no brainer. This is the best start to the future. I would like our board to review the grant application next month before it is submitted,” Board Chairman Jay Zatta said. “We want your blessing and will go back to our board to start a draft of the grant application. I have already asked Port Authority Executive Director Evan Scurti to come up with several brownfield sites in Jefferson County. And we will need a lot of public support for the application. I believe we can put together a strong application,” remarked Ford. The port authority board of directors also heard from Susan Oliver, manager of Community and Government Relations for WPX Energy, who said a reception has been set for 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Fairway 4 Restaurant in Rayland, Ohio, to demonstrate a towboat converted to use natural gas. Scurti announced the authority's annual breakfast meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 9 at St. Florian Hall. “The meeting is open to the public. And we will have representatives from JobsOhio here to be the keynote speakers,” said Scurti. Board member Mark Teramana reported a meeting to discuss the possibility of a countywide commercial permitting office, “went very well. The spirit of cooperation is definitely there. We must now look at the actual costs of operating a permitting office,” Teramana said. In other business Scurti said the purchase of the Premiere Pump property in the Jefferson County Industrial Park is nearly complete and the authority will buy the 4.8 acres at the park for $43,200 on behalf of the county commissioners. The authority directors indicated they hope to have a 2016 budget ready for a vote by the January meeting. “We will want to talk to the city and the county regarding their support of the port authority,” said Zatta. Board member Rob D'Anniballe encouraged Scurti to set a workshop session to discuss comments made at the 2014 annual meeting and to followup on the comments and suggestions. Zatta said the port authority will be conducting the performance review on the executive director and his compensation package. Nominations for officers for the board of directors will be submitted at the December meeting.