BELLAIRE-"Let this be an example of turning the corner," says Jason Wilson, director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia. "We need to do what we haven't done for generations-that is diversify."
Wilson was on-site at MPR Supply Chain Solutions/Mountaineer Products presenting a check for $75,000 to the Belmont County Port Authority to assist with the acquisition expenses of the Belmont County Memorial USAR Center (Armory) on North Guernsey Street.
The Port Authority was recently able to finance the purchase of the long-vacant property through the Government Services Administration (GSA) with United Bank using the grant in the process.
A $75,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia is giving a boost to Belmont County’s economic development on the Ohio River. Pictured, from left, are Larry Merry, Belmont County Port Authority; Dana Soter, Ohio Mid-Eastern Goverments Association; Jason Wilson, the Governor’s Office of Appalachia; Natalie Brown and Dave Humphreys, MPR Supply Chain Solutions.
According to Larry Merry, director of the Port Authority, "The Governor's Office of Appalachia money was the vital seed money to allow the entire bank loan and project to be put into place. The reconstruction of the property will allow much better utilization of the river."
Assisting in the grant process was the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association (OMEGA) which services 10 counties. "They picked up the cause and stepped up to help," adds Merry. "We all did this to help the people of the Ohio Valley, to bring in jobs."
Merry also noted the support of the Belmont County Commissioners and the Village of Bellaire throughout the acquisition process.
After purchasing the Armory, the Port Authority leased the property to neighbor MPR for expansion of their transloading facility and business. Rick Frio, president and CEO of MPR, says what began as a $3.1 million plan has grown into a $5 million plan that will ultimately create between 50 and 75 jobs. They have already begun demolition of the Armory buildings and will use the property for the rail shipping component of the business.
Wilson noted the "viable property" along the Ohio River that gives businesses like MPR a "strategic advantage" and opens up other types of commerce possibilities along side of the coal and steel industries.
"It's been my pleasure to work with all of the partners on securing these funds," Wilson adds. "It's about putting people to work."
Valenti can be reached at email@example.com.