Leaders speak up for foreign trade zone

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

SOUTH POINT - Lawrence County is perfect - for a foreign trade zone.

That was the message Thursday as many people turned out for a public hearing on the Lawrence County Port Authority's foreign trade zone application. Those in attendance wanted to speak on the benefits the zone would bring to Lawrence County

and the region.

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The agency has submitted an application to establish a general foreign trade zone at The Point industrial park.

As part of the application process, Kathleen Boyce, Federal Trade Zone Board Examiner from the Department of Commerce, held the hearing to receive public comment on the application.

&#8220Basically, the zone is going to be a huge benefit to the area,” Steve Story of Global Trade Solutions said.

Story, the consultant for the application, said the zone would bring many benefits to Southern Ohio such as new jobs, advantages including deferring duty, eliminate paying duty in some cases, tax savings, broker fee savings and logistic advantages in savings - and the zone would level the playing field with foreign competition.

&#8220It is one of the best economic development programs you can have,” he said.

Many others supplied Boyce with support testimony including South Point Mayor Bill Gaskin and Ken Cook, Superintendent of South Point Schools who thought the zone would be a benefit to South Point and surrounding areas-by bringing jobs into the area.

Dan Evans, dean of Ohio University Southern, said the zone would provide an opportunity for graduates of Ohio University as well, by giving those graduates the opportunity to get manufacturing jobs and stay in the area. Evans said most of the time; we take the river for granted.

&#8220I see the impact this river has, I hear it go by,” he said.

Evans said when he hears the activity on the river - that activity signifies commerce, money and jobs.

Ron Copher, chief financial officer for Oak Hill Banks, said the Oak Hill Banks Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Oak Hill Banks, has made application for allocation of New Market Tax Authority and has committed to set aside $28 million for new market loans for The Point industrial park.

Also set aside will be $3 million for the Ironton portion of the Empowerment Zone.

&#8220This is probably the most logical place to have a foreign trade zone,” Keith Molihan, president of the Lawrence County Port Authority said as he addressed those at the hearing. &#8220Huntington is one of the busiest ports in the United States.”

Public comment on the application will be accepted through Dec. 27.

Comments can be mailed to Foreign-Trade Zones Board, U.S. Department of Commerce, FCB-4100W, 1401 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20230.