The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 6, 2012

Conneaut industrial park could welcome new tenant

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — Talks are reportedly under way that could bring a potential tenant to the new and improved East Conneaut Industrial Park, Conneaut City Manager Tim Eggleston said Wednesday.

Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County is spearheading the effort, Eggleston said.

“(GP) is working with somebody,” he said. “There may be a couple of possibilities.”

Brian Anderson, Growth Partnership executive director, confirmed the interest but declined to provide specifics, citing the very tentative nature of the inquiries.

“We’re looking at a couple of different opportunities,” he said Wednesday. “There’s nothing concrete, but we are pursuing those opportunities.”

Early this year, the finishing touches were applied to a $1.1 million upgrade to the park, which abuts the Pennsylvania state line along Route 20. The project created a 1,000-foot, paved road into the property, along with all utilities.

ECIP was carved from a large expanse of land, formerly owned by U.S. Steel and bisected by the federal highway, more than a decade ago. The city purchased the land in the 1990s to entice a state prison to the area. A prison, the Lake Erie Correctional Institution did arrive and sits on the north side of Route 20. The recently-improved portion is located south of the highway.

Three businesses — Conneaut Leather, BC Machining and Conneaut Telephone Company — have operations in the park along Route 20. The arrival of those businesses pre-dated the park facelift.

The park has received some attention in recent weeks. Last month, Eggleston said he and the Conneaut Port Authority are investigating the possibility of seeking the help of a “nationally-recognized firm” to help market the property. The city port authority is heavily involved in economic development projects.

Also, the city is trying to find a new location for the municipal compost site, which abuts the upgraded area.