Port authority talks possible property deal

STEUBENVILLE – The Jefferson County Port Authority board of directors continued private discussions regarding a possible property deal during the monthly meeting Thursday afternoon.

The Port Authority board met at Steubenville City Hall because of an evening meeting scheduled with City Council and administration officials.

The 34-minute executive session, called ” to discuss the possible lease, sale or purchase of real property,” ended without public comment from the directors or Port Authority officials.

Evan Scurti, director of economic development for the Port Authority, reported his office received four new phone calls and e-mails regarding companies looking for properties.

“We continue to work closely with three prospects, each showing moderate to strong interest in furthering their research of our county. These three prospects are all in the oil and gas drilling service supply chain,” noted Scurti.

Scurti told the directors he is meeting with community leaders throughout Jefferson County and “by the end of May I hope to have visited most communities to introduce the port’s program of work and overall approach to economic development.”

“I am focused on researching various infrastructure strategies that could assist several of our county’s key sites and buildings that lack modern infrastructure. I am also developing a one-to-two-page overview designed for the owners of our large development sites such as Strauss Industries and Frontier that owns the Mingo Junction Steel Works. I want them armed with good information about our port authority as they are meeting with prospects,” said Scurti.

He noted he has met with representatives of Strauss Industries, the Wheeling-based firm that bought and is developing the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Steubenville plant.

“I was very impressed with the work to date and plans for the future,” said Scurti.

In other business, Scurti asked the board’s permission to hire a financial consultant to help the organization to prepare for the agency’s first state audit this year.

“I have a candidate who is very well versed in accounting and state audits. He would also help me format a revised budget that would be in line with the state,” explained Scurti.

“With our budget constraints I think we need to make sure this hiring will fit into our budget,” responded board Chairman Rob D’Anniballe.

Scurti encouraged the directors to attend the Port Authority’s first investor meeting scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on May 1 at the Eastern Gateway Community College Pugliese Center.