Port authority finalizes industrial park deal

WINTERSVILLE – Officials with the Jefferson County Port Authority signed paperwork Tuesday afternoon that clears the way for John Riley to proceed with plans to build a 15,000-square-foot warehouse and office building in the Jefferson County Industrial Park.

Riley appeared before the port authority members at the February meeting to request the port authority ask for the industrial park property be transferred from the Community Improvement Corp. to the Port Authority.

“This would be on a 5-acre lot. We have sold our retail stores but will continue to operate our petroleum company. This is an exciting time in Jefferson County and we are ready to grow our business. Business doesn’t move at the speed of government. We need to get moving on this project,” Riley stated at the February meeting.

“I also need the road to the property finished at the industrial park. Getting that road finished will open up a prime 30-acre parcel for future development. I have already spent about $60,000 on architectural and engineering work. This project is contingent on everything falling into place,” added Riley.

In other business during the three-hour meeting, board members agreed to set June 21 as the official open house for the authority offices located at the Jefferson County Airpark.

“The open house will be held from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in collaboration with the airport authority, which wants to show off their new hangar,” said authority Chairman Jay Zatta.

Board member Debbie Venci said approximately 600 letters have been sent out to prospective contributors inviting them to the open house and asking for financial support of the port authority.

“We have a lot of membership prospects. And I am asking each board member to contact additional potential sponsors. I am also asking all board members to proceed with your own fiscal support of the authority,” noted Venci.

This is the first major effort to secure funding for the economic development agency that includes the creation of a new website.

Donna Hrezo, real estate coordinator for the port authority, said the www.jcport.com website, “went live at midnight of May 21.”

“And anyone who clicks on the former Progress Alliance website will be automatically re-directed to the port authority website. We will have a page dedicated to our major sponsors and will list the logos of our sponsors on the home page,” explained Hrezo.

The board members also accepted the port authority’s new logo.

In other matters, the board unanimously agreed to join the Business Resource Network that has been formed in Jefferson, Carroll, Harrison and Belmont counties.

And Ed Looman of the state’s Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth updated the board on several development projects in Jefferson County.

“The common theme in my eight-county district is the aging work force. Businesses are wondering where their future work force will come from,” said Looman.

Looman also said riverfront property “is still very hot in the development market. Jefferson County is the leader in our region with the inventory of available properties.”

Board member Gary Cain of the property and resources committee said it is important “to have every available land site available on our list.”

“We are now trying to get a handle on pricing on potential land. It is hard to get comparable sales in the area. We also need to stay in contact with our area realtors to have up-to-date information on all available projects and available property,” cited Cain.

Following a 50-minute executive session to discuss personnel, the board accepted the resignation of office business Manager Kim Cline-DeLuca.

Cline-DeLuca indicated she is willing to remain at the port authority until a replacement is hired.

“And I will remain committed to the mission of the port authority and will continue to support the organization financially and publicly,” said Cline-DeLuca.

She also said she will stay involved with port authority events and will volunteer her time in the future.