Port authority sniffing clues for businesses

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Sherlock Holmes has nothing on the Ironton Port Authority.

The city's port authority, an independent group of five volunteers working on economic development projects, are following so many leads and clues that the fictional detective would be proud.

Hot off the recent success of attracting Aluminastic LLC, a research and development company that has created a new aluminum alloy, the members of the port authority are hard at work on filling up the rest of the city's vacant properties with businesses and the jobs that come with them.

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"I am thrilled to death with the efforts all of you have given," Mayor John Elam said to the group recently. "While we are still just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping something sticks, I think this is the most stuff that has been thrown in a long time."

Board chairman Bill Dickens agreed, adding that he believes Ironton is right on the edge of revitalization.

The group recently asked the city to hand over the remaining 30 acres in the South Ironton Industrial Park to use as a marketing tool. A 5-year-old company interested in a 2-acre lot would create a minimum of 60 jobs but could reach 100, most of which would pay an average of $15 per hour.

But that is not all they have going. One of the hottest sites has been the former Wolohan building. At least three different companies have shown serious interest in the large property along South Third Street

"Someone is going to go in that Wolohan building, that is for sure," board member Jay Zornes said. "But from a selfish standpoint, I want to get all three (prospective tenants.)

At least two distribution companies are interested and another company is looking at that site and the industrial park.

Elam believes that the Wolohan building will be important piece of the puzzle.

"I think if we could get a price, a rock bottom price, it would go a long way to helping us market that building," he said.

Recently, IPA representatives and Elam met with an out-of-state delivery service company that is looking at a site within the city. This company would create 70 to 100 jobs.

Discussions are also still underway with two state agencies interested in the industrial park.

Other options are a paper processing business that is interested in the top floor of the city center, an insurance company that would like to bring 25 jobs to downtown and others.

The members will keep following the trail until they solve the mystery.