Proverb: Every end is new beginning
With Ironton City Council’s recent decision to dissolve the Ironton Port Authority, and transfer its assets to the Lawrence County Port Authority, the end of this era is simply a new beginning. A beginning of new relationships, new commitments and hopefully new opportunities.
Since its inception in 2003, the Ironton Port Authority, a five-member “volunteer” organization, set out to make economic changes for the residents of the City of Ironton. With very limited resources, a plan was developed to address the many unseen issues that affect economic development.
Heavy industry played a huge role in Ironton’s history. With heavy industry comes contamination, abandoned structures and new state regulations.
Many issues had to be addressed if Ironton wanted to move forward with developing the number of empty contaminated lots and abandoned buildings. Unfortunately, this type of work is never seen by the general public. It takes a lot of man hours to apply for state and federal funding to assess, clean up and develop a contaminated parcel of property.
During its 10 years of service, the Ironton Port Authority successfully received over $1.5 million in grant funding to clean up the former River Valley Hospital property, the Tiger Metals property and a portion of the riverfront property.
Additionally, they took the lead and assisted the City of Ironton in applying for state funds (in excess of $4 million) to develop the riverfront property for commercial, residential and recreational use.
In 2006, the IPA purchased the former armory building, which helped house a number of organizations with individual needs. The property was recently coupled with the former group home and county garage to develop what is now known as the Gateway Project that includes a possible hotel and restaurant.
Let’s not forget about the industrial park.
The IPA was instrumental in getting three new businesses to this location not to mention the relocation of two businesses while offering assistance to a non-profit association.
Since the decision to salvage the former Ro-Na Theater, the IPA committed approximately $200,000 to this project by donating funds to help ensure the restoration of the roof and to incorporate running water into the facility. They truly understand the economic impact this type of facility has on a downtown community, as attested to by other cities involved in successful revitalization efforts.
In order to help secure funds to start up the new downtown revitalization organization, Ironton aLive, the IPA put forth the funds to get the organization up and running. At the same time, they have given generously to area non-profit organizations committed to strengthening tourism efforts in the Ironton community.
As the executive secretary, I count it a pleasure to have worked with a group of quality men and women with outstanding morals and an unflagging commitment to the long term good of the city. Thank you for laying the foundation for Ironton’s future economic growth.
This is not an end. It’s the beginning of new opportunities. It’s not about what entity has control or who did what. It’s about strengthening a community for future generations.
Katrina Keith is executive secretary of the Ironton Port Authority.