LISBON — The Columbiana County Port Authority is working on a program aimed at filling two area needs at once — finding jobs for people in recovery and finding workers for employers.
CCPA Recovery Coordinator Robert Ritchey explained the concept to members of the Port Authority Board of Directors Monday night, saying it’s all about reducing the stigma and showing that people recovering from substance abuse are qualified, they show up on time and they’re dedicated.
The port authority partnered with the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association on the Recovery to Work Study, which was just finished in October. Now the goal is to secure grant funding to pay for training the potential employees and work on job placement.
While meeting with area businesses, Ritchey said the biggest issue the employers talked about was getting employees. Throughout the OMEGA region, there have been problems with substance abuse.
One of the goals for the port authority is business retention and expansion and a big part of that deals with workforce development.
“This is just another tool to help us get these businesses the workers they need,” Ritchey said.
Part of the plan is to find employers willing to look beyond a worker’s past. As for finding the potential workers, Ritchey said they’ll be working with the courts and recovery programs.
In other business, the board awarded the exterior facade improvements contract for the Leetonia Cherry Fork facility to Jim Santini Builder Inc. of Washingtonville for $83,400. The contract will include some masonry work and painting.
CCPA Chief Executive Officer Penny Traina said this is part of the Global Investment Hub project, which originally started in 2019 and experienced delays due to the COVID pandemic and then rising costs for materials.
Traina updated board members on the hub project, which will be located in the middle section of the Port Authority’s industrial park property on Cherry Fork Avenue. The port authority will create the hub with its partners at the Youngstown State University Small Business Development Center and Export Assistance Network.
She said the goal is to bring new or existing businesses in 3D printing, technology and petrochemical clusters into the hub, marketing to foreign companies in those areas to locate here. Funding for the project includes $400,000 from the state capital budget and an additional $250,000 secured from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Traina said she’s hoping bids for the interior work can be awarded next month.
The board also authorized Traina to enter into contract negotiations and accept a contract with ms consultants inc. as the criteria engineer for the speculative building project at Leetonia World Trade Park. The plan is to build a 60,000 square foot building on Port Authority land at the World Trade Park. She said there’s a need for industrial space that size.
Traina also updated board members on the recent manufacturing event held in the Salem Industrial Park and a job fair held at Crestview Local school district for manufacturers and healthcare organizations and high school students.
In financial matters, the board approved a revision of $38,148 for the 2022 budget, bringing the total to $5,069,821, and approved the 2023 budget with estimated expenditures of $4,435,182 and estimated revenue of $3,986,703. Traina noted that health insurance costs increased by 2.5 percent, a number she considered amazing because it wasn’t more than that. She also said their costs for travel would increase since they stayed in the office more during the pandemic and now they’re getting out.
The next bi-monthly board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Jan. 23. Traina said they may end up with a possible call-in meeting on Dec. 19 for the interior bids for the Global Investment Hub. If that’s the case, the meeting will be announced.