Port Authority: Increased challenges, increased opportunitiesWritten by Paul Toth | | firstname.lastname@example.org
As we continue to navigate these equivocal times, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority is privileged to play a strategic role —alongside our vast partners — as our region defines our new economy. From brown field redevelopment to innovative financing programs, the Port Authority focuses diligently on ensuring this area is positioned to capitalize on growth and development opportunities.
Late last year, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority purchased the historic Jeep Parkway property with the sole intent of returning this valuable parcel to the stream of development and allowing it to once again become a productive asset of our community. Due to our strategic partnerships, Jeep Parkway will be ready for redevelopment within 24 months, and we have already been approached by several interested parties.
The BAX Global facility at Toledo Express Airport is the only dedicated heavy air freight-sorting complex in North America. The facility employs more than 700 people with annual volumes averaging 350-500 million pounds. Progress continues in developing additional cross docking and customs facilities to not only enhance the state of the art cargo handling capabilities at Toledo Express, but most importantly assist in the retention of hundreds of jobs.
The Port of Toledo handles on average 12 million tons of cargo and 700 vessel calls each year. With the assistance of state and federal partners and investment from the private sector from Midwest Terminals of Toledo, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority has infused more than $35 million into the Toledo Seaport. This funding provides for the development and enhancement of terminal infrastructure and equipment, including the purchase of two new mobile harbor cranes — the only twin cranes of this kind on the Great Lakes. As one of the most efficient product-handling ports on the Great Lakes with more than 180 acres of developable waterfront property, we envision great growth in the next several years.
Our Diversified Contractors Accelerator Program (DCAP) began in late 2010 and provides financial solutions to encourage increased participation by minority and women-owned contractors in publicly bid work and privately funded construction projects. There is a unique opportunity in our community to bridge the gap between identifying and deploying the appropriate and required contractors for publicly bid projects. DCAP bridges this gap by identifying contractors and providing access to various forms of capital for contractors unable to obtain these resources through traditional sources. DCAP has been a vision of the Port Authority for several years and we are incredibly appreciative of our partners at the City of Toledo and The University of Toledo for assisting us in bringing this program to the community.
The port authority continues to develop programs as part of the $15 million Department of Energy grant we received last year to implement energy efficiency building retrofits. The grant allows the port authority to provide funding to implement the wide-scale use of energy efficiency and alternative energy practices and solutions in commercial, governmental and industrial facilities within our communities.
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority continues to take action to strengthen the Northwest Ohio Bond Fund by identifying investment sources via public and private funds. The port authority is also exploring other investment offerings that will fill a need in the region, while providing a financial advantage to our diverse community. Our financing programs have assisted more than 300 economic development projects representing a total investment of nearly $1.1 billion while helping to create or retain nearly 16,000 jobs.
Toledo Express airport has found a successful niche in providing low-cost travel to Florida-based destinations. However, our local airport continues to struggle to find favor among the business travelers due to our proximity to Detroit. Though we are acutely aware that our region has multiple choices for air travel, we do ask that you check Toledo Express first. We know the offerings are not plentiful. Airlines have repeatedly told us that the only way Toledo Express will be able to attract more air service is to make the service we have successful, which means we need to patronize our partners that are already flying here — Allegiant, American Eagle, Delta and Direct Air. Please consider these air carriers for your next trip. Your loyalty to our community airport is necessary to retain this resource.
As 2011 progresses, we will undoubtedly see increased challenges and increased opportunities in our region. The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority remains committed to diligently focusing our resources on job creation and development right here in our community. We will seek out additional properties for development while focusing on the highest and best use for our current property portfolio. We will work with our partners to seek out companies looking for the advantages that our region holds. Together, we can and should focus on the multiple opportunities available in our region. It is within these opportunities that our region will find growth, prosperity and advancement.
Paul Toth is president and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.