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CIC looking at alternate funding ways

April 18, 2012
By LINDA HARRIS - Business editor ( , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE - The Community Improvement Corp. is trying to figure out how to give the business community extra value for its membership dollars.

CIC President Bob Chapman told the board during Tuesday's meeting at the IBEW Local 246 offices on Fourth Street, that funding is "very tight, we need to retain all our current partners and we need to cultivate some new partners."

Chapman said it's currently costing them about $20,000 a month to maintain operations.

Article Photos

BUSINESS AFTER HOURS — Members of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce gathered Tuesday for a Business After Hours event celebrating the opening of the IBEW’s Anthony L. Shreve Annex in the K.W. Gasser training center at 626 N. Court St., Steubenville. The addition, which cost $1.1 million, houses five high-tech labs. Manning the scissors for the ceremonial ribbon-cutting were Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci Jr., left, and Shreve, while union leaders, business people and Shreve’s wife, Karen, look on. -- Linda Harris

"We may have to look at alternative ways of funding," he said.

The CIC currently relies on funding from local government entities, as well as business memberships, to generate revenue for its business development arm, Progress Alliance.

But board members said convincing business owners to join sometimes can be a hard sell because they aren't charging prospects for the work the Progress Alliance staff is doing to bring new business to Jefferson County. Charging for some of those business-building services might encourage more to join, they said.

Oil and gas-related businesses are flocking to the Upper Ohio Valley, and in recent months the Progress Alliance staff has been busy compiling lists of commercial and industrial properties available for sale or lease and showing them to companies interested in locating in the Ohio Valley. So far, 22 buildings have been sold or leased and seven others are pending as a result of their efforts.

But while they'd like to generate revenue from those efforts, board members acknowledge they "need to be careful" in charging prospects for those services.

"I don't know how you do it, there's a fine line," said Jefferson County Commissioner Dave Maple.

Representatives of JobsOhio, meanwhile, were on hand to talk with the Progress Alliance Partners in Progress about efforts to bring jobs and revenue to the region.

Matt Cybulski, a Steubenville native and project manager for JobsOhio, said the oil and gas industry is sparking supply chain opportunities in other parts of the state.

"Hopefully we can get some of that here in Jefferson County," he said.

"(Companies) are making billions of dollars in investments because they know what's (here) - they've done their homework," he said. "If it wasn't a long-term resource, they wouldn't be making the investments they are."

Cybulski said the area's proximity to Pittsburgh International Airport, as well as its other assets the Ohio river, rail access and an interstate highway system are attracting outside attention.

"The amount of searches we're getting, companies looking in this area specifically, is tremendous," said JobsOhio's Sheena Metzger.

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