WELLSVILLE - Stimulus-funded improvements at the Columbiana County Port Authority's riverfront industrial park were recently completed, and additional funding is being sought to complete the rest.
Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake announced this week completion of the last of the projects funded with $5.7 million in federal stimulus money received three years ago.
The Port Authority operates a 70-acre industrial park along the Ohio River, and the stimulus money was used to: install an overhead 60-ton crane system to move cargo boxes back and forth from barge, truck and rail; add a second cargo dock; and install a permanent barge for loading and unloading aggregate materials.
"The project will expand the capability of the facility at Ohio's largest river port and provide the state with additional international cargo access to Gulf of Mexico ports, in both New Orleans, La., and Mobile, Ala.," Drake said in a news release.
The improvements have already attracted a number of new tenants over the past year, such as Cimbar Performance Minerals, a mineral-processing company that is involved in a $10.3 million joint venture with another firm to produce drilling fluids for use in the shale gas industry.
In July, Arrowhead Utica Pipelines announced plans to build a $20 million-plus gas-transfer facility on 22 acres being leased from the Port Authority, creating 30 to 50 jobs.
At the same time, Marathon Petroleum, which has a storage tank farm located next door to the industrial park, is purchasing some Port Authority property to develop a staging area for trucks delivering oil and gas for transfer to the storage tanks.
Drake said things are definitely looking up at the industrial park.
"The crane system is fully operational and handling cargo every day. We just had a meeting with some shale groups about moving equipment through here," he said. "I think it'll (industrial park) be operating 24-7 in the near future."
Next up is completion of a conveyor system to transfer aggregate from barges to truck and rail, and vice versa. Some work was done but the Port Authority ran out of funding, and it will take another $1.5 million to complete, which Drake said they are looking for funding sources.
Drake said $17 million has been spent on the industrial park over the past 10 years, of which about $5 million came from the Port Authority and the rest from state and federal grants.