STEUBENVILLE - The Jefferson County Port Authority Tuesday emerged from a nearly hour-long executive session to ask for financial support from Steubenville and the Jefferson County commissioners and agreed to accept temporary support from the Community Improvement Corp.
The authority members had moved into the closed-door session "to discuss personnel" and emerged 50 minutes later and said they needed to obtain a 501(c) 3 nonprofit status as as soon as possible in order to accept private donations.
It was the second meeting for the authority members who held an initial organizational meeting in August.
LISTENING — Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham, left, and Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison, right, listened to Norman Blanchard discuss his role as economic development director in Guernsey County. Blanchard met with the new Jefferson County Port Authority Tuesday morning to explain how the Guernsey County Port Authority operates. - Dave Gossett
City Manager Cathy Davison told the authority members she already talked to City Law Director S. Gary Repella, and he had asked his assistant law director to contact the county prosecutor's office to start working on the nonprofit application for the Authority.
Davison also said she will ask City Council to consider giving city-owned property included in the South End Strategic Plan to the port authority for future sale or development as the city's support for the fledgling organization.
Commissioner Thomas Graham announced he is willing "to fund as much as $50,000 for seed money."
"I would also be happy to do something. You can't do anything without money. Our county budget is still amazingly healthy," said Commissioner Tom Gentile.
Gentile also said he has been involved in an ongoing dialog with the owners of the former Satralloy plant.
"The owners are planning to have the environmental issues at that site remediated by the spring. They have no plans to develop the property, so we might be able to obtain the land for future industrial development," added Gentile.
The authority also accepted an offer of assistance from the CIC on a temporary basis.
According to a letter from the CIC board of directors to the port authority, "This support can come in the form of recording minutes during port board meetings, preparing agendas for meetings, e-mailing notices of meeting to board members and the media as well as e-mailing approved meeting minutes."
"The CIC/Progress Alliance would welcome port authority board members at monthly Progress Alliance Partners meetings. Three of the newly elected port officers currently are Progress Alliance Partners. Progress Alliance is willing to provide port authority board members with monthly staff activity reports, detailing work being done on various projects," the letter reads.
"The Progress Alliance executive director can, should the port authority board desire, represent the authority at regional and statewide meetings. In addition, the director can arrange meetings between the Jefferson County Port Authority and authorities from other areas. The Progress Alliance director also is willing to arrange meetings between the port authority board and available resources," noted the letter.
"The CIC would be extremely interested in partnering with the port authority going forward when it comes to working together on projects and or opportunities that will result in positive developments for Jefferson County," according to the one-page letter.
"We will accept your proposal on a temporary basis. We are still working out things. And we are not prepared to announce an executive director. We will accept private donations as soon as we have our 501(c) 3 status," said authority Chairman Jay Zatta.
Prior to the executive session, several authority members expressed a need to establish their own identity as an economic development agency.
"As we all grow, hopefully we will complete deals and we obtain resources so we can be self-sufficient," said board member Rob D'Anniballe.
"We need to establish an identity even if it is a phone in the Progress Alliance (office)," noted board member Mark Teramana.
But board member Gary Bates urged the authority to review the CIC policies and procedures.
"I don't always agree with the policies of the CIC," said Bates.
Board member Greg Nemeth said visitors to the county may not always understand the CIC or Progress Alliance.
"But people know a port authority. Once we get the port authority out there we will need someone who is available on a daily basis. We all have businesses and can't always be available," said Nemeth.
The board also heard from Norman Blanchard, the economic development director for Guernsey County who said he serves as director of the Guernsey County CIC, the port authority, transportation improvement district and president of the county planning commission.
"We have created a business-friendly atmosphere. Our port authority is self-sufficient because of the leasing of properties. I have always made sure anything going on in the county goes before the port authority. Perhaps in the future we may fade the CIC into our port authority. We work hard at keeping it where the CIC knows its function and the port authority does its job," explained Blanchard.
The next port authority meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Nov. 6 in the City Hall Pugliese conference room.