STEUBENVILLE - The nine members of the recently established Jefferson County Port Authority listened about the past Thursday before embarking on plans for the future as they heard words of advice and encouragement from two former local economic development officials.
Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison called the meeting "an historic day for Jefferson County."
"When like minds get together who want to move forward, success will follow. This is a true collaboration of the city and the county," added Davison.
PORT AUTHORITY MEMBERS — The nine members of the new Jefferson County Port Authority met for the first time Thursday at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center. Taking part in the organizational meeting were, seated, from left, Gary Cain, Jay Zatta, Debbie Venci and Michael Thomas; and standing, Gary Bates, Greg Nemeth, Ed Florak, Rob D’Anniballe and Mark Teramana. - Dave Gossett
"I am really excited about this group of people. Great things happen because of great people like we have here," said Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham.
"When we started discussions a couple of years ago we knew we would be in a much better position with companies moving to our county. If a couple of companies make their decision to move here, we could soon be out of available property at the industrial park. One of our immediate goals will be to look for more land for a second industrial park," noted Progress Alliance Executive Director Ed Looman.
The organizational meeting of the countywide economic development agency saw Jay Zatta elected as chairman, Mark Teramana as vice chairman, Debbie Venci as secretary and Ed Florak as treasurer.
The group heard from former Alliance 2000 Executive Director Rick Platt, who now serves as chief executive officer of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, and former Progress Alliance Executive Director Mike Jacoby, the current chairman of the Zanesville-Muskingum County Port Authority, offer advice from their experiences.
"You have been handed the keys to a new truck. Put some gas in the tank, set the GPS and rip off the rear view mirror. Don't look behind you, but look to the future," said Platt.
"Our port authority was created 17 years ago during a crisis. The Air Force force base in our county was set to close. The county had the opportunity to take over that property and privatize it. An opportunity then existed for the sale of land and leasing the property. I can tell you our model was based on the Community Improvement Corp. in Jefferson County," related Platt.
"Last year at this time I was trying to figure out how to make payroll for the end of the year. We were going out of business. But we had land assets. We sold some of our land and moved forward. The moral of the story is there are all kinds of port authorities. Come up with a plan and focus on where you want to go," advised Jacoby.
The discussion continued with questions about grants and how land can be acquired.
"You have a unique situation in Jefferson County because you have both rail and the river," Jacoby said.
Florak said the port authority will have to determine how to interface and avoid duplication with the CIC.
Looman offered assistance from his Progress Alliance staff, and the port authority board members agreed to hold monthly meetings at 9 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month starting in October. The meetings will be held at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.
Zatta said he would like the next meeting to focus on a mission statement. And the board agreed to invite Norman Blanchard, the executive director of the Guernsey County Port Authority, as well as the officers of the Jefferson County CIC to attend the next meeting.
Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci served as the meeting facilitator for the 90-minute organizational session.