Belmont County is open for business with three county-generated industrial and business parks.
The oldest, Fox Commerce Industrial Park in St. Clairsville is located near the county fairgrounds and along Interstate 70. It has been developing for 15 years on 125 acres. According to Belmont County Department of Development/Community Improvement Corporation director Susan Douglass, it is expected to reach full capacity by summer of 2013.
"It's really been a great magnet for new businesses," she says. "Fox Shannon is also very diverse." Douglass points out that its occupants are all independent businesses and include small companies that began as home-based businesses, like Sew Biz, as well as international companies like Federal Express.
T-L Photo/GLYNIS VALENTI
Belmont County is diversifying as developing industrial parks attract a variety of businesses. Here, workers construct one of several planned buildings outside of Barnesville in a joint venture between private and public sector entities.
She says employees like the park-like setting with a pond and walking trail and that Fox Commerce Industrial Park has been a showpiece for visiting businesses.
"It's like a microcosm-a snapshot-of the county," says Douglass. "Fox Commerce Park has materialized into the industrial park that was envisioned in the beginning."
In western Belmont County, two developing industrial parks are results of partnerships involving county government, the Village of Barnesville, Warren Township and private investors.
Each park is designated as a Joint Economic Development District (JEDD,) an agreement between contiguous municipalities and/or townships to foster economic development and job creation while benefiting the parties in the agreement.
The Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park is located north of Barnesville on State Route 800 just south of Interstate 70. An agreement with Oxford Mining Company made use of several hundred acres of reclaimed strip mine land as the park site. The Village of Barnesville and the Belmont County Port Authority have secured state grants and matching funds totaling $1 million for a water line project to the EORIP, and it should be completed by summer 2013.
Larry Merry, director of the Belmont County Port Authority, says businesses have been eyeing the property because of its flexibility in design with undeveloped land. Lot sizes could range from five acres to 60 acres.
"We knew we'd be looking at a long-term project here," says Merry. "Just building the infrastructure takes time."
On the east side of Barnesville along State Route 147 lies a second JEDD facilitated by the Port Authority. A portion of this new district, including land known as the former Children's Home property, is privately owned, and the remainder is owned by Belmont County. A sewer line to the district is under construction and is also a product of public and private sector partnerships.
The private owners built one 10,000 square foot pre-engineered building and leased it right away. Construction is underway on a second building, and they have another potential tenant interested in a 20,000 square foot building.
Merry will be promoting both of the JEDD projects at an upcoming regional event targeted toward Pennsylvania real estate brokers and businesses.
"Barnesville is really a shining example of how the government, the public sector and private enterprise can work together for economic development that benefits everyone," Merry adds. "The County Commissioners have been very supportive of these projects and work hard to encourage business development and job creation throughout the county."
Valenti may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org