ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Officials in Belmont County continue to lay the groundwork for economic development, marketing available property and encouraging businesses to take advantage of the many assets the area offers.
Belmont County boasts two major industrial park areas - one that has been up and running for a number of years now and another that is currently being developed.
The Fox Commerce Park, located west of St. Clairsville, is just a short distance from Interstate 70, and has sites visible from the interstate. There are 11 businesses at the site, with 10 of them in operation.
This sign marks the spot of the Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park, which is being built on Ohio 800. The park is looking to host businesses that focus on manufacturing and distribution.
Businesses operating at Fox Commerce Park include Fed-Ex Freight East, Sew Biz, Ohio Heat Transfer, ResCare, Mack's Gypsum, Tim's Custom Installation, Pivotal Propane, i2i Mobile Marketing and Tomorrow's Corner.
The Avalon Industries building and site at 66850 Executive Drive is currently for sale, and the new facility for Underground Service and Supply is presently under construction.
"Businesses within the park are following a national trend," said Sue Douglass, executive director of the Belmont County Department of Development/Community Improvement Corp., which oversees the development of Fox Commerce Park.
What's the economic impact of the area's industrial parks?
Some of the area's industrial parks are fairly full, serving as home to businesses that provide jobs and benefits.
"They use your supply chain close to home. All of the businesses in the park interact. They look at the products and services that we have close to home, and they see the immediate supply chain needs of the area. This is a trend that is being seen across the country, and it's what everyone is looking for with future growth and development."
The 125-acre park is designed to accommodate customized tenant parcels from two to 30 acres. There are utilities available at the park, which represents a $2.7 million investment in local economic development. A walking track and pond complement the park's light industrial business setting.
There are additional sites available at the Fox Commerce Park, and Belmont County officials continue to market the property and work with businesses that are interested in locating facilities there. Douglass said they are continuing to work on bringing broadband Internet services to the park.
Belmont County is also seeing progress at its new industrial park site located just north of Barnesville off Ohio 800. The Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park has been undergoing site preparation over the past few years. Oxford Mining donated 200 acres and helped with site preparation, and the county has an option to obtain up to 800 acres of property.
The Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park project is being coordinated by the Belmont County Port Authority.
"In the very near future, we're going to be at a comfort level where we'll be able to start marketing the park," said Larry Merry, director of the Belmont County Port Authority.
Merry said the park will be ideally suited for businesses that specialize in manufacturing and distribution. However, the topography of the land and the vastness of the park also make it well equipped to welcome companies that focus on light industry, various types of offices and other business ventures.
Through grants and local money committed to the new industrial park site, around $2 million has been earmarked to its development so far.
This year, the county was awarded a $150,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to install a water system at the park.
Merry said the water project should go out to bid soon and the construction should be completed this year. The grant was obtained through the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association.
So far, the park has received a $750,000 Job-Ready Sites grant through the Ohio Department of Development, with a local commitment of $250,000 from the county to match. Two grants, both in the amounts of $175,000, were also received from the Industrial Site Improvement Fund and 629 Fund, which are administered through the Ohio Department of Development.
Last year, a new road was installed into the Eastern Ohio Regional Industrial Park property from Ohio 800.
Merry said plans are moving forward now to bring natural gas and broadband Internet services to the park as well.
Funding is also being sought for sanitary sewer services at the site.