Ohio will fund port upgrades

May 11, 2012
By TOM GIAMBRONI , shaleplayohiovalley.com

LISBON - The Columbiana County Port Authority received final approval to spend $3.5 million in state funding to fund continued improvements at its riverfront terminal/industrial park in Wellsville.

The state controlling board this week approved the loan which will be forgiven if certain benchmarks are met, including completion of the project within 12 months and creation of 20 jobs within three years after work is finished.

Most of the money will be used by the port authority to fund a number of improvements to help industrial park tenant CIMBAR Performance Minerals, which entered into a joint venture with Anchor Drilling Fluids USA to produce drilling fluid on site to be used in the shale gas industry. The fluid is used in drilling the boreholes but not in the hydraulic fracturing process used to extract natural gas.

The money will be spent to make improvements to the railroad siding at the industrial park and complete installation of a bulk cargo-handling conveyor system that will be part of the terminal's overhead crane system used to load and unload cargo from barges, trucks and railroad cars.

As part of the project, CIMBAR is spending $6.8 million of its own money to purchase equipment and machinery, bringing the total investment to $10.3 million.

The crane and conveyor belt systems are to serve any and all customers and tenants. A local firm is under contract to operate and find customers for the crane/conveyor system portion of the industrial park, while the port authority is responsible for finding other tenants for the remaining 25 acres that are available.

The $3.5 million is part of $4.5 million the state awarded the port authority several years ago to acquire 522 acres for the former Baard Energy project. The money was no longer necessary after a private investment firm took over the project and agreed to purchase the remainder of the property itself.

After this occurred, the port authority received state permission to spend the rest of the money on continued improvements to the industrial park/terminal.



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