Port Authority hints at partnership announcement in redevelopment of Overland Industrial ParkWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority held its inaugural annual meeting Sept. 20, presenting a public report of the organization’s achievements and goals to an audience of about 100 civic and business leaders at the Toledo Club.
In perhaps the most noteworthy item, president and CEO Paul Toth reported the board would likely approve and announce a public-private partnership for redevelopment of the Overland Industrial Park, the former Jeep property in Toledo, at its Sept. 27 meeting.
The Port Authority has received $9 million in grants to develop the 110-acre site at the I-75 and I-475 exchange, according to Toth. Environmental remediation of the brownfield site has been completed, he said.
The Port Authority board created a new Economic Development division for the purpose of working on the development of sites it owns such as the former Jeep property.
It is also working on remediation and redevelopment of the 180-acre former Chevron site in East Toledo and Oregon to create a new home for the Ironville Docks. The Port Authority purchased three parking structures and the metered parking system Downtown from the City of Toledo in 2011. It is presently upgrading the parking facilities and meter system, said Toth.
The Port Authority is partnering with the Ohio Department of Transportation to construct a new $5.5 million garage facility in Northwest Ohio with groundbreaking for the project expected in a few weeks, Toth reported.
The purpose of the Sept. 20 public forum was to provide insight on what the Port Authority does in the community, said William Carroll, chairman of the Port Authority’s board of directors.
Carroll said the group will “continue its focus on job creation and economic development through community involvement by taking public funds and investing them in the community. We look at ourselves as good stewards of public funds.”
Toth thanked the board of directors for their service as volunteers. He called it the “most engaged board I’ve ever been around.”
The Port Authority was established in 1955 as the first port authority in Ohio. Many of the other 67 port authorities now operating in Ohio are emulating what Toledo is doing, Toth said.
Since 2000, the Port Authority has received $130 million in federal and state funds and raised an additional $19 million in local matching funds. The investment of nearly $150 million has resulted in more than 10,000 jobs.
The Port of Toledo is the largest cold port in the world and the eighth foreign trade zone established in the U.S. The seaport supports 7,000 local jobs, $1 billion in annual trade with 10 to 12 million tons of cargo, according to the Port Authority.
In the past two years, the Port Authority has invested $30 million in new equipment and facilities at the Port of Toledo.
The Port Authority is responsible for all cargo, general aviation, passenger and military operations at Toledo Express Airport.
“Toledo Express has been devastated by loss of passenger service over the past several years,” Toth said.
Toledo Express currently offers regular flights to Chicago, Orlando and Tampa, Fla. The Port Authority’s passenger agent is negotiating with another airline to provide seasonal service from Toledo to Southwest Florida International Airport in Punta Gorda.
Toledo Express also lost its largest cargo operation when BAX Global closed its facility there. The Port Authority worked with former BAX employees to form BX Solutions to replace the closed cargo facility. It invested $2.4 million to upgrade it into an intermodal facility that put 150 employees to work.
BX Solutions now has 250 employees working on two shifts with 201 hired from the former company. President Chris Marshall said he expects future expansion of the facilities in the near future.
On the general aviation side, afterthe Cessna Citation Service Center was closed, National Flight Service and the Port Authority created a public-private partnership to open the Toledo Jet Center and rehired 35 of the former Cessna mechanics.
The 180th Fighter Winger of the Air National Guard has expanded its operations at Toledo Express with 400 full-time employees and 600 to 700 part-time.
“We’re rising to the challenges and meeting them head on,” Toth said about Toledo Express.
The Port Authority has developed innovative financing opportunities to support economic development in the Northwest Ohio region. The Northwest Ohio Bond Fund established by the authority is rated BBB by Standard & Poors.
The Port Authority has provided financial assistance for more than 300 economic development projects with a total investment of $1 billion in total investments while helping to create or retain 15,500 jobs, according to Toth.
In a partnership between the Lucas County Improvement Corp. and the Port Authority, the Northwest Ohio Improvement Fund was established to provide funding for local projects. The authority also founded the Northwest Ohio International Fund, a microloan program for local businesses, and a Minority Contractors Assistance Program to help local contractors.
The Diversified Contractors Accelerator Program was launched in 2010 and now has 26 participants. The program has helped local contractors to eliminate the 60- to 90-day pay period during construction, Toth said.
The Port Authority helped solidify a $3.5 million rooftop solar project at the GM Powertrain plant in Toledo. When completed, the solar installation will provide about 10 percent of the energy used by the plant.
Better Buildings of Northwest Ohio was established by the Port Authority to help promote energy efficiency with a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. One of the projects involved investing $100,000 for energy upgrades at the Valentine Theater in Toledo.
An Energy Special Improvement District was established in Toledo with 36 active buildings in the program. The Port Authority expects to expand it to include Oregon, Maumee and Sylvania.
The City of Toledo is investing $1.2 million with the help of the Port Authority to improve 40 buildings, including 19 fire stations, to make them more energy efficient.
For more information, go to www.toledoportauthority.org.