CIC wraps up 16-year run

STEUBENVILLE – The Community Improvement Corp.’s 16-year run as lead economic development agency in Jefferson County is officially over.

“At least the county can start to heal,” CIC Chairman Bob Chapman said after Friday’s special meeting, where they wrapped up loose ends and then dissolved the organization. “All the controversy should be done.”

Board members spent some 90 minutes while meeting at the IBEW Building on Fourth Street deciding what to do with project-specific grant money as well as revolving loan funds, and also decided how they’d like to dispose of the organization’s remaining assets.

Then, with one final roll call vote, the board pulled the plug on itself by a 9-0 vote.

“I appreciate everything you’ve done, the service you’ve all given,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Dave Maple. “I know the last six months have been rocky, but the CIC and Progress Alliance have been very (effective) and I appreciate it.”

The decision means the recently formed Jefferson County Port Authority will assume the role as the lead economic development group.

Chapman said it’s time to move forward.

“A lot of people dedicated a lot of time and money to this organization,” he noted. “I just hope the port authority is as successful as we are or have been.”

“I wish them a lot of luck,” added the CIC’s Ken Perkins. “With the commissioners’ support, they’re sure to do well.”

Perkins said Chapman, “deserves major kudos” for his efforts to hold the organization together and keep their focus on the business at hand, all the way to the end.

“I have no regrets,” he said. “I think we did a great job and we accomplished a lot in the years we were here.”

Prior to dissolving, the board reviewed outstanding expenses and revenues and directed staff to begin closing accounts.

They’ll ask the Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association to administer the Revolving Loan Fund, though ultimately it will be the Economic Development Administration that decides who oversees the program.

Industrial Park Road funds will be transferred to “whoever is in control of the industrial park, whether that’s the county commission or the port authority.”

After a lengthy discussion, the CIC designated the port authority as successor to its Ohio Department of Development grants and loan money. While there is money in the account, the program itself is no longer available; Had the CIC declined the grant, it’s unlikely the port authority would be able to get the money back.

“(But) I don’t know that we can give it to somebody who hasn’t even asked for it,” CIC board member Kyle Brown said. “I would think somebody would have been here” to make the request.

Maple, though, said transferring right of access keeps the door open for the port authority.

“I’m not sure why you wouldn’t let them have it,” he said. “If you take action to reject the loan, that would probably prohibit the port authority from taking advantage of the program.”

The board approved the designation, with Perkins abstaining, but added a proviso that the CIC would not be responsible for any costs involved in the transfer.

The board agreed to give the port authority filing cabinets to store financial papers for their final audit, and, subject to common pleas court approval, will leaving the remaining furniture in place for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce’s use. No decision was made on the computers, but Chapman made it clear that the software purchased by the CIC was off-limits to the new port authority.

“It’s copyrighted material, you can’t transfer it,” he said.

The board also designated the United Way of Jefferson County as the beneficiary of any cash leftover after the final bills are paid, which Chapman figures might only amount to a couple of thousand dollars.

The board also agreed to pay up to $3,000 in legal fees and expenses to the attorney supervising the disposal of assets.