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Jefferson County Port Authority hires new director

Photo by Andrew Grimm The Jefferson County Port Authority Board of Directors voted to hire Robert Naylor as the port authority’s executive director during a special meeting Wednesday evening inside the Towers Building. Naylor, a county resident, will begin in the role on Nov. 1.

STEUBENVILLE — After more than a year of searching, the Jefferson County Port Authority finally has a new executive director.

Following a lengthy executive session during a special meeting of the Port Authority Board of Directors, the board voted to hire Robert Naylor to fill the position that has been vacant since August 2019.

Naylor, a county resident and current chairman of the board of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, will begin the role on Nov. 1.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the Jefferson County Port Authority Board of Directors for affording me this opportunity,” Naylor said. “I’m humbled and honored to accept this position. We have a strong board and it’s time to get to work.”

Naylor will be paid an annual salary of $100,000.

In addition to his role with the chamber of commerce, his experience includes being the chairman of the board for the Jefferson County Community Action Council, being the director, secretary and legal council for the Braintree Business Development Center in Mansfield and business advisory council for Dublin City Schools.

He has a law degree from Duke University and an M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business.

“We’re very excited to have Robert on board,” board chairman Greg Nemeth said in a prepared release. “His experience and understanding of Jefferson County will help us realign our focus on economic development to address the economic challenges our area faces.”

Nemeth said following the meeting he was happy to have the search come to a close.

“It’s been long, as everyone knows, but I think the end result will tell the tale,” Nemeth said. “I think the decision will work out well. There is a lot of enthusiasm (about Naylor). We need the people of Jefferson County behind us now. Good times are yet to come.

“There’s certainty in any organization to have a leader, and our director will basically be our leader. I think it will put us in a very good position.”

The search had been on to fill the role since previous director Evan Scurti, who had served in that role since 2013, was shifted to a part-time role as incentives manager last year.

Scurti submitted his resignation from his role as an employee of the port authority effective Oct. 31, which was accepted by the board following an executive session, at Wednesday’s meeting. Then, the board voted to enter into a consulting agreement with Scurti’s company, Scurti Consulting LLC, for a term of one-year at a rate of $5,000 per month beginning Nov. 1.

Scurti said his company will consult on projects and with general assistance.

“I look forward to working with Robert and the port authority in this new consulting role,” Scurti said.

Also at the meeting, the board discussed the potential sale of county property in two locations.

Transmart USA is interested in acquiring an empty lot the county owns in the Brilliant area for the expansion of its business.

A motion was made for legal documents to be drawn up on the sale.

The Jefferson County Commissioners approved the port authority to proceed with the process following an executive session at last Thursday’s meeting.

Also discussed was the potential sale of county property at the Jefferson County Industrial Park to Bully Tools Inc., a current occupant of the industrial park that is looking to build two additional buildings to expand business.

A motion was made for legal documents to be drawn up for the sale upon the port authority receiving a $5,000 deposit from the company.

The commissioners made a similar approval for the port authority to proceed with Bully Tools at their Oct. 8 meeting.

The process for both sales transfers the land to the port authority, who then handles the sale transferring it to the buyer.

Bully Tools was said to still be working with the state on potential assistance and tax abatement programs, but it was noted they have filed for local tax abatement of 60 percent.

The sale details would be contingent on the company meeting set criteria for construction dates and job creation by 2024.

Commissioner Dave Maple, who attended the meeting, told the board both were exciting propositions for the county.

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