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Solid leadership for port authority

Economic development in our region received a big boost when Robert Naylor was selected on Oct. 14 as the executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority.

Naylor, a Steubenville native, brings an intimate knowledge of the area and a solid record to the position. The current board chair of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, he has served as chair of the Jefferson County Community Action Council; as the director, secretary and legal counsel for the Mansfield-based Braintree Business Development Center; and as business advisory counsel for Dublin City Schools.

Add in an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh and a law degree from Duke University, and he appears to be just what the port authority needs in the director’s post.

It’s a job that has been open since August 2019, when Evan Scurti, who had held the job since 2013, was shifted into a part-time role as incentives manager at the port authority, which serves as the county’s comprehensive economic development agency.

Scurti, who will resign his position Oct. 31, will continue to be involved with the agency — the board entered into a one-year contract with his consulting firm, Scurti Consulting LLC, which will become effective Nov. 1, the day Naylor begins his new job.

Naylor is stepping into an important job. There’s a lot happening in our region — we’re seeing consistent growth from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Eastern Gateway Community College, Trinity Health System and Toronto-based TIMET, for instance, and expansion and improvements at the Jefferson County Airpark have made the facility among the best regional airports in our area.

Work under way at the Jefferson County Industrial Park will see further expansion that will help existing businesses and make that facility even more attractive.

One of its major tenants, Bully Tools, is looking to expand its operations.

Plus, Jefferson County sits in a sweet spot almost directly between the cracker plant Shell is building in Monaca and a similar facility that is planned for Dilles Bottom, which could make it a great location for spin-off businesses.

There certainly will be challenges ahead, as our region’s economy, just like the economy of our nation and the world, works to recover from the problems brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why it is critical for organizations like the Jefferson County Port Authority to have solid leadership in place that is ready to recognize — and pursue — opportunities.

Naylor will bring those skills to his new job — skills that can help our area grow.

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