BELLAIRE - The success of MPR Supply Chain is an example of private initiatives and public officials who have recognized and took advantage of the opportunity presented by the oil and gas boom. Businesses across the country stand to gain as a result.
"It's an exciting time here in Eastern Ohio. I think we're on the front end of something really wonderful, said Co-owner Rick Frio. "It's the greatest thing that's happened business-wise in my lifetime.
"We are the perfect example of the public-private partnership and how the public entities can work with a private entity like us to create value and jobs," he said. "We wouldn't be here without (Port Authority Director) Larry Merry and without the county commissioners, without the state. Capital was so tight to get that it took all of those people working together to get the low-interest loans to make this thing happen.
T-L Photo/GLYNIS VALENTI
A $75,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Appalachia gave a boost to Belmont County’s economic development on the Ohio River. Pictured, from left, are Larry Merry, Belmont County Port Authority; Dana Soter, Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association; Jason Wilson, the Governor’s Office of Appalachia; Natalie Brown and Dave Humphreys, MPR Supply Chain Solutions.
"What we do here is going to ripple and create value for some other folks in this region, because they'll be able to get their raw materials cheaply. They'll be able to ship their goods cheaper. They can keep their cost down. then they're going to create more jobs and be more valuable to their customers, and Larry understood that from day one."
"The project is really starting to take off. Businesses are lining up," said Merry, noting the opportunities the MPR operation and river access presents to a variety of businesses. "That project is not only going to impact the county, it's going to impact Ohio."
Merry noted work by commissioners and the port authority assisted in working with the state to help access funds.
"The county and port authority were instrumental in purchasing the armory property," Merry said, pointing out that it allowed rail installation. In addition, county officials kept in contact with state and federal officials to convey the importance and impact of the MPR initiative.
"The county played a vital role sometimes behind the scenes, getting the project done."
Frio added that the village of Bellaire has been welcoming.
"When we came here in early 2009, I didn't know Chief (Michael) Kovalyk. The first thing he did was put his hand out and say 'thank you for bringing your business to Bellaire.' It's been a wonderful place to do business."
Frio noted the benefits of the riverside location
"That's the beauty of this. Where we sit," said Frio, adding that theirs is the first business in the area to offer multi-mode transloading. "It's a wonderful opportunity to create value for businesses in this region and the result of that is jobs."
Frio noted that in 2013, several business developments are expected to come to fruition. MPR has four business units, as well as a sister company and other companies they represent. In the transportation end these flatbed trucking and hot shot express, which specializes in fast deliveries. It boasts an operation of 50 trucks daily between the Bellaire site, the east coast and Texas, hauling projects related to oil and gas as well as MPR's other metal products.
Their connections in the gas industry have also allowed them to make an arrangement to sell water as the exclusive agent for the village of Bellaire. This solves a logistical problem posed by rural wellheads were trucks have difficulty accessing safely.
"That's probably going to start kicking in in the third quarter this year as the gas prices have improved," he said. "More companies are starting to drill the wells."
The aggregate division is also starting up. This will produce limestone and slag for the base and road.
"The timing is amazing for our multi-mode project to start," Frio said. "The synergies are great. These things go together so well.
"We're eager to create value for all those players," Frio said.
However, much depends on the movements of the oil and gas interests, which are themselves dependent on pricing in the market.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.