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Loan OK comes days before work starts on river port

SOUTH POINT — Work should start next week on wide-scale renovations of segments of The Point all designed to create an intermodal river port at the South Point industrial park.

This comes just after the county got the green light Monday from the State Controlling Board on a $9.5 million Logistics and Distribution Stimulus loan that had been recommended for The Point by the state Development Financing Advisory Council.

“It’s been a lot of effort by a lot of people,” according to Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corp. “It will be a tremendous benefit to southern Ohio.”

Dingus envisions the facility as a catalyst for the development of manufacturing as The Point is located where the Heartland Corridor meets the Ohio River.

Next week J&H Erectors from Portsmouth will begin work on building a new roadway and transfer pad designed to move product by rail and road, funded from $3.6 million in federal stimulus money.

An additional $2 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds will go toward a concrete pad at the site. That project was bid out Tuesday.

Total cost for the river port itself is expected to come in at just under $15 million, with $1.8 million coming from the LEDC, besides the state loan. On top of that the LEDC has applied for $3.2 million for federal Economic Development Administration funds.

“We have the application ready for filing. We do not see a problem with it,” Dingus said.

That application is expected to go to the EDA in the next two weeks. The LEDC is seeking those funds because part of the $9.5 million state money must be matched.

However, about one-third of the stimulus loan can be tapped now and will be used to rebuild the 2 million-gallon tanks for the liquid loading dock, valves and the surrounding physical structure, all going toward the first phase of the river port project.

“Many of the (walkways) do not meet OSHA standards,” Dingus said. “They are too narrow for stretchers.”

The state loan may be forgiven when the project is completed if it creates a specified number of jobs.

Jobs directly tied to the facility may range from 50 to 75 with an estimated 45 or more temporary construction jobs This summer’s work is expected to create between 15 and 20 constructions jobs at the site this summer with the liquid load facility to be completed by fall.