Port authority begins transfer process

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Port Authority on Wednesday began the process of acting as a conduit for the transfer of Mingo Junction property for the expansion of the FeX Processing facility in the village.

Evan Scurti, the authority’s executive director, said FeX has owned the former football stadium property in Mingo Junction for several years and is planning to expand its operations in the village.

FeX wants to purchase less than 1 acre of land from the village, he said.

The port has the ability to be the conduit for transferring the land. It will be deeded from the village to the port authority and then sold to FeX. The company will pay the legal expenses in preparing the land conveyance and purchase contracts, Doug Schaefer, FeX vice president, said in a letter to Scurti.

The port authority approved hiring an attorney for the land transfer process.

Scurti said FeX will be building a railroad spur into the location.

In June, the Ohio Rail Development Commission received a $16.25 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program to be used toward Norfolk Southern mainline improvements from Dilles Bottom, as well as rail yard investments at Mingo Junction. The project proposal included a significant match of $14.5 million from Norfolk Southern, Scurti said.

The FeX expansion will create about 15 new jobs, he said.

Scurti said a Gulf Coast company involved in the oil and gas industry has been in touch with him and asking about property in the county.

“I call it a little more than a preliminary (discussion). They are looking at sites,” he said.

There is a possibility of 40 jobs with the project, he said.

Scurti presented the board with a draft of an informational brochure that will offer details about the federal opportunity zones available in the county, which include three mill sites.

Those sites — in Yorkville, Mingo Junction and Steubenville — are now privately owned, each with seasoned development teams, Scurti said. All three sites, totaling more than 500 acres, are located in the federal opportunity zones.

The zones offer capital gains tax incentives to businesses.

Scurti said JSW USA, which has reopened the former steel plant in Mingo Junction, could be interested in using the opportunity zones program and the ability to purchase equipment through the sales-tax savings program. He said Tidewater Logistics, which purchased the former Steubenville steel plant site, is attracting oil and gas industry-related companies to the site. The owner of the Yorkville site also is working on redeveloping its site, Scurti said.

Scurti said he is planning to hold a seminar in the next several months to explain the opportunities available to investors.

He is inviting the owners of the mill properties to include information about what the sites offer.

Board member Jay Zatta asked if other properties could be included in the opportunity zones. Scurti said the governor’s office only included the three mill sites, adding the locations have to be on low- to moderate-income areas.

Scurti said he is sending updates on economic development activities to prospective investors who have expressed an interest in properties in the county, including office space.

Scurti said he is working with Steubenville on a $250,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for the storm water separation project on University Boulevard. Scurti said he presented information to the city about businesses on University Boulevard which would benefit from the project.

Scurti said he has been working on asbestos removal at the old City Building. The city is working on a concept to turn the building into a marketplace. A sampling analysis plan has been submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for review. A survey to determine what, if any, environmental concerns exist will begin in May.

Scurti said StorSystem USA is applying for a tax abatement for its new planned facility at the county industrial park off county Road 43 outside Wintersville.

StorSystem USA earlier this year signed a $91,000 purchase agreement for 4.8 acres of land at the industrial park.

Certwood Limited of England, which does business in this country as StorSystem, has had a distribution center at the industrial park for two years, but will construct a 15,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution building. About 15 new jobs will be created. The company currently has nine workers.

The company manufactures injection-molded products, mainly storage units for schools.

Scurti said the 60 percent tax abatement for 10 years will be presented to the Island Creek Township trustees on May 14, followed by the county commissioners on May 16.

He said a June groundbreaking for the new building is being planned.