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PROFILE: Pointing the way forward

SOUTH POINT — It’s a work in progress, following the philosophy that steady progress translates into solid progress — Progress that is for keep.

That’s how The Point, the 504-acre industrial park at South Point, has been transformed from a deserted industrial site to a viable manufacturing and marketing tool for Lawrence County and beyond.

And the advancements keep coming. Just last week, the state recommended The Point for a $9.5 million Logistics and Distribution Stimulus loan that is earmarked to pay the lion’s share of a massive intermodal port, multi-faceted project whose goal is to tie rail, road and river together at The Point, for a major facility that can connect South Point to the 21st century ways of distribution.

“This investment by the state of Ohio should be the catalyst to spur manufacturing in Lawrence County and throughout Southern Ohio,” according to Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. that owns The Point. “The capability of moving large items from tanks to industrial ducts to windmill blades from manufacturers from the Ohio River to distribution will again help to properly position Lawrence County for aggressive growth.”

The River Port Facility, expected to cost just under $15 million, is a three-phase project where two existing million-gallon load-out tanks will be rehabilitated; a rail spur will be created along the Ohio River boundary of the industrial park; and a riverfront development geared for loading and unloading.

Right now there is timetable of two years before that facility is built at The Point. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been much development at the park since its inception about 10 years ago.

Currently, there is a widely diverse range of manufacturing entities who have made The Point their home. They include Superior Marine Ways, McGinnis Inc., Engines Inc. of Ohio, M&M Mailing, Mid-Valley Supply, Applied Technologies, Mercier’s, M&M Services and Calgon Carbon.

The Lawrence Economic Development Corp., a non-profit organization made up of county leaders that has focused since then on turning the site into a significant industrial and business park, bought the property in 2001.

Reaching that goal began about four years ago when Jeremy Clay, director of The Point, supervised the construction of the first spec building, a 42,000 square foot structure.

It is those spec buildings that are one of the attractions that are bringing businesses and jobs to the South Point venue. A spec building is basically a shell that when a prospective business considers coming to The Point, the owners can request what amenities and details they want.

Finishing up the building to the owner’s specification is what Clay does and that usually can take up to three months. With The Point taking care of the spec building, it cuts down on the time and additional expenses the business would have to send to construct the structure itself.

And as soon as one business says it is coming to South Point, another spec building is in the works.

With the significant infrastructure at the park already in place and fleeting and air permits already on board, there are many advantages for an industry to locate at The Point, the LEDC says.

Add to that the fact that this area, called the Huntington Port, is the largest inland port based on tonnage in the country. With gasoline costs still on the rise, there is a major financial benefit to transporting product by rail and/or water. One barge can carry 1,500 tons compared to a large semi that has only a 26-ton capacity.

“From our vantage point we see this as a perfect location where the Heartland Corridor joins the Ohio River,” Dingus said.