Scurti outlines goals for area port authority
STEUBENVILLE – Evan Scurti, executive director for the Jefferson County Port Authority, discussed the authority’s goals and operations during the Friday luncheon meeting of the Steubenville Rotary Club at the YWCA on North Fourth Street.
Scurti, recently named to the position, said the port authority was in its infancy. Scurti, who graduated from Steubenville Catholic Central High School and the Franciscan University of Steubenville, said it was good to be back home after serving in positions in Ashland, Ohio, and with the Ohio Department of Transportation.
“I’ve always looked at this area through a (business) development lens,” said Scurti. “We’re really jumping into some quality prospects.”
One of his first duties for the port authority will be documenting the local assets global markets might find attractive, he said.
“I’m a big believer in a quality process,” said Scurti, adding he wants to help define “what the port authority’s roll will be in the community.”
Scurti said the authority was formed by nine board members between county government and Steubenville. He added county commissioners chose four of the board members, Steubenville appointed four members and the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission picked one member. Scurti said the present goal of the authority was to attract investors and focus on raising funds for the short term.
“Hopefully, (investors) believe in our mission,” said Scurti, adding investors will begin meeting with the port authority board and officers beginning in April to offer feedback and advice.
The overall mission of the authority will be to support the county’s economic base and “creatively market the industrial opportunities in the county.”
When marketing in a global business environment, “You really have to be on top of your game,” said Scurti, adding information between potential businesses and local development officials flowed quickly.
Scurti said he hoped to develop trust among the authority municipalities throughout the county, with the authority eventually being recognized as the main conduit for economic development in the county.
“We have a great relationship with our commissioners,” Scurti said, adding expanding the county’s industrial park also was a goal. “We are actually talking to a local business now about expansion (in the county’s industrial park).”
He said although the authority “was a political body,” individually the officers had no power to sell land, give away assets or offer tax abatements, and that power was reserved for the board, county commissioners, landowners and businesses in partnership.
“This county has so much to offer in terms of heavy infrastructure,” Scurti continued, adding such assets would be attractive in a global marketplace.
He said upgrading the authority’s website, at www.jcport.com, would be a priority for 2014. Scurti said it would be imperative for all entities to work together and let the authority act as the main conduit for economic development, as port authorities in Ohio can exercise several advantages, including offering tax abatements to potentials business prospects, exercising eminent domain and working with all parties involved.
Scurti also said connecting with end users involved in the gas and oil industry was part of his vision for the county. He added an online newsletter would begin in March.
For information, go to the website or call (740) 283-2476.