Barnes and Thornburg look to bring economic development to Belmont County

T-L Photo/KAILEY CARPINO David Paragas, attorney at the Barnes and Thornburg business law firm based in Columbus, attends the Bellaire Village Council meeting on Thursday to discuss bringing economic development to Belmont County.

BELLAIRE — David Paragas, attorney at the Barnes and Thornburg business law firm in Columbus, visited Bellaire Village Council on Thursday to discuss bringing economic development to Belmont County.

Paragas said he hopes municipalities in the county will agree to join an alliance to bring at least one big business to the area. He said that the alliance would be a nonprofit organization that village officials would be members of.

Council received information about the plan previously and discussed it at the Jan. 18 meeting. At that time, Councilwoman Janet Richardson said the dues to join the alliance cost about 25 cents per resident per month.

“That’s $940 per month, and $11,400 a year. Of course we want to be involved in economic development, but the dues are pretty steep,” she said.

Paragas on Thursday said he has set up similar programs in other areas including Indiana, Illinois and central Ohio. He said Belmont County has many resources that would make it a good area for the program. He said that being close to the Ohio River and only an hour away from Pittsburgh, a major city, makes the county inviting for large manufacturing companies and other businesses.

“I think all of you know the fact that when you take six hours’ drive time from Belmont County you can get to about 60% of the United States population within six hours. So when you think about it from either a manufacturing or a data standpoint, this is an ideal location,” he said.

Paragas said cities and villages in the county have large-capacity water treatment plants and other facilities that large businesses would need.

“I know you’ve done some work on your water treatment facilities. When you think about 5 million gallons a day, no other community can do that. You could do that right here,” he said.

Paragas said the alliance would also work in conjunction with JobsOhio, the county port authority, and other county and state organizations.

Paragas said he is asking each municipality to send him a “letter of intent” if they would like to join the alliance. He said he has reached out to other villages and cities in the county and will release a list of the participating municipalities in the near future.

“It sounds like a great opportunity. It just comes down to cost. It’s a big investment to make to, hopefully, get something in return in the future,” Solicitor Paul Stecker said.

Richardson said that Paragas’ presentation was “very helpful,” and she thanked him.

Council plans to discuss the matter further and look at village finances before deciding whether to join the alliance.

In other news, Mayor Edward Marling said he received bids for replacing the bay doors on the firehouse. He said the firefighters have to park their fire trucks at an angle because only one door opens properly.

Council received a bid from J. Andrews Doors in East Liverpool for $32,962 and a bid from Dennis Miller Garage Doors in Sardis for $40,214. The bid from Dennis Miller also included two man doors.

Marling said in a previous meeting that the man door on the front of the building is glass and needs to be replaced with a solid door.

Councilman Jerry Olack said he recommends purchasing the bay doors from J. Andrews Doors. He said the staff he has been in communication with seemed very knowledgeable and he would like to do business with them. He said the company will make some upgrades to the door-opening equipment to bring it up to code.

All members of council voted in favor of purchasing four bay doors from J. Andrew Doors, the low bidder.

Marling also said that the lightbulbs that the ceiling lights in the municipal building use are no longer sold. He said he would like to look into replacing the lights with new LED ceiling lights.

Richardson said she would also like village officials to look into replacing village streetlights with LED lights. She said the LED lights will be more efficient and reduce the village’s electric bill.

Marling and Village Administrator Frank Shaffer plan to look into replacing village streetlights and the lighting in the municipal building.

Council’s next meeting will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 15 in council chambers.


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