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Toronto business quick to establish

April 14, 2012
By LINDA HARRIS - Business editor ( , The Herald-Star

TORONTO Houston-based Express Energy, the company leasing the old J&J property in Toronto, expects to have its equipment in place by the end of April.

"It was available," said Eric Tanzberger, vice president of business management for Express Energy. "We wanted to have a quick turn-around, we wanted to be able to get in and get set up as quick as possible. It was available, it was the right location - it's just north of Steubenville, it has the right site requirements in terms of acreage, office and shop space. We felt fortunate it was ready to go."

Express Energy this week leased the property from Biasi Realty, which acquired it about a year ago. The site had housed the J&J auto dealership prior to its closing in 2008.

Tanzberger said the company already has a service line operating in the Cambridge and Massillon area, "but we wanted to establish a more fixed base on the Southeast side of the state. As part of that effort, our search targeted the Steubenville area."

He said they want to have the site "up and running as soon as is practically possible."

"We have a short-term lease, for one year, but we have the ability to extend it," he said. "If we do outgrow the facility where we are, then we'd be looking at doing something else - more likely than not, it would be built-to-suit."

Matt Arrowood, marketing and communications manager, meanwhile, said employment "will grow as the market dictates."

"We'll have 30-35 people to start with, but it could grow up to 100," he said, with Tanzberger pointing out they'll be looking at local hires.

Progress Alliance Director Ed Looman figures "somewhere between 50 and 60 of the people" who ultimately will work at Express Energy's Toronto location "will come from the area, and that means more opportunities for existing businesses to see increased activity ... they'll have lots of trucks that need fuel and other things.

"It's a nice project for us, when you think about the possibility of 90 new jobs," he said.

Looman said the "neat thing" about the deal was the inter-agency effort to get it done.

"The Jefferson Regional Planning Commission, with the county commissioners' (blessing), applied for and received a $1 million grant to, among other things, conduct Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies of potential brownfield sites in Jefferson County that could potentially be used for new business opportunities," he said. "J&J and DiNovo's were two of the businesses that had studies done."

A portion of the old DiNovo site, located on Third Street in Steubenville, has been leased to Power Torque, another company servicing the oil and gas industry.

While both sites got a clean bill of health, Looman said the grant money was nonetheless an integral part of the process.

"They are properties we can market without any concerns about environmental issues," Looman said. "They've been determined to be clean, so now both of them are becoming places where people are going to work. The grant money was extremely important, you can take potential brownfield properties and make them green and put them back into use as places of employment."

Looman said Biasi deserves credit for the work it did at the site, "getting it ready, investing money."

"And the city of Toronto deserves credit, Mayor (John) Geddis was actively involved in those discussions, and City Council approved the zoning change," he said.

"I always beat the drum, economic development is about teamwork. It takes a team to get it done. What's transpired through that grant is proof positive of the benefits that can come when organizations work together you end up with new business coming to the area."

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