BELLAIRE -MPR Industrial Solutions transloading facility here is moving forward and recently started up a truck line to help move products, and hopes to finalize a deal with the state on Monday the next step in creating 73 new jobs.
On Wednesday, one of owners of the business, Rick Frio, president of MPR, said the business is creating a lot of buzz in the industry.
"We validated the concept that this area is the best area and optimum point for distribution," Frio said. "It's one of the few places in the United States where you've got Class I and Class II railroads, a major waterway in the Ohio River and 10,000 trucks a day going by. We have proven the concept of transloading and have created significant value for our customer base."
T-L Photo/MICHAEL SCHULER
MPR industrial Solutions is just about ready to move forward with its expansion plans that reportedly will create 73 new jobs and possible spin industries. Rick Frio, right, shows the coil the business ships from the transloading facility to, from left, Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede, 95th Ohio House Candidate Lou Gentile and Commissioner Matt Coffland. See image at cu.timesleaderonline.com
At a gathering at the North Guernsey Street facility, Frio was joined by Belmont County Commissioners Ginny Favede and Matt Coffland, Port Authority Director Larry Merry, 95th Ohio House candidate and former assistant Director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia Lou Gentile, and Lisa Duvall, regional development director for East Central Ohio. The event was announced by the "Strickland for Governor" campaign.
At the site, large steel coils made in Texas are shipped by river barge to the site. From there, they are sent to the northeastern part of the United States and Canada. Plans are to utilize the locations access to Class I and Class II railroad and the Interstate, as well as the Ohio River.
According to Frio, the cost of shipping from Texas to the transloading site by river is about 40 percent of what it would cost to ship the coil by truck.
"That's a fantastic savings for our customers that we can now replicate for other shippers and create other jobs," Frio said.
The coils are used for a variety of applications. According to Frio, they are used to make things like tools, medical equipment and wielding rods, to name a few.
"We are thrilled, as you can imagine," Frio said. "We've been in a really good position and had great support from Lisa (Duvall) and Larry (Merry) when we started. They got us exposure to the state level, to the governor, to (the Ohio Department of Transportation) to the Rail Commission and we are extremely lucky to have the support of all three county commissioners and the mayor and police chief here. It takes all of those pieces to have this opportunity become a reality."
It's a move the county hopes will lead to even more growth.
"One of the things that Belmont County has touted and laid claim to for many years is river and rail access to the interstate," Favede said. "This project actually put that into practice and it's putting Belmont County on the map as far as transporting goods and this is going to change the face of Belmont County and bring jobs to Belmont County."
Coffland also acknowledged the potential the project could have to attract more businesses to the riverfront area.
"I think it's great for Belmont County and Bellaire and I'd like to thank Gov. Ted Strickland for remembering Belmont County and remembering us here," Coffland said. "As Ginny (Favede) said, utilizing the river and rail we have down here, we are finally putting it to the use it needs to be."
But Frio said the transloading facility wouldn't have been possible without the assistance of the state.
"The capital markets are so tight, to get funding to do the project . . . we still needed public assistance to make it work and get us through the first phase," Frio said. "As a taxpayer, you've got one thing in mind and that is that the state just gives away money. I can assure you, that those folks all worked their tails off and as a taxpayer, I'm happy to say that, because we went though an amazing process and they validated everything to make sure it was going to be successful before they agreed to loan that money. So they are pretty darn good stewards of the taxpayers' money."
In July, it was announced the company would receive a $99,000 tax credit from the state.
The payroll for the operation is expected to be about $2.5 million which should generate about $25,000 annually for the village in tax revenue, not including the potential spin-off from the creation of new jobs pumping money into the local economy.
"Part of the loan package the state put together for this project is from this governor's $1.57 billion stimulus plan he signed into law not long after he took office," Duvall said. "So clearly it's a program that has worked and has created jobs."
Along with the Ohio Department of Transportation and local entities, Frio said he and his partner David Humphreys also got support from the Ohio Department of Development, and the Rail Commission.
"Enough can be said about the Department of Development and the Department of Transportation. Gov. Strickland has put together a team that has been very responsible to where job growth is happening and that is in small to medium size businesses," Merry said. "That is the key to have that kind of cooperation which has been beneficial to this community. That is where jobs growth is going to come from in this county from smaller companies that are expanding and growing and becoming more efficient."
But Gentile said future developments like this could be in jeopardy.
"When considering this project, It's important to safeguard the taxpayers' money and there is a candidate, John Kasich, who is running for governor and his very first substantive proposal is to disband the department of development and put in place a 12-member board of corporate CEO," Gentile said. "He has said on the record that those CEO could receive secret bonuses, taxpayer-funded bonuses, that would not be disclosed and that could be reckless. We are facing a very serious recession that was not caused here in Bellaire or our part of Ohio, but on Wall Street by decision makers who were reckless and irresponsible."
Gentile also questioned the candidate's commitment to funding the Appalachian Regional Commission, which he said has helped to bring millions of dollars to the local area, which is in turn used to leverage other funds.
"I'm glad that we are seeing such growth on the riverfront and seeing the role of government, which is to be a partner with the local government to grow our economy," Gentile said. "That's what's Gov. Strickland's (department of development) has done. And people need to be aware there is stark contrast between what is being offered in John Kasich, who would privatize parts of our state government which would be of a detriment to our part of the state."
Schuler may reached at email@example.com