The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 23, 2013

Developers looking at county

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT —  Talks are under way with would-be developers looking at locations in Conneaut, City Council learned at Monday’s regular meeting.

Brian Anderson, executive director of Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, told members the county is pursuing a half-dozen leads, and “two or three” of them involve property in Conneaut, including the East Conneaut Industrial Park on Route 20.

“We’ve made a handful of visits to the (industrial park),” Anderson said. “We’ve got a ways to go, but I’ve been encouraged by the conversations so far,” he said.

Anderson did not specify if the developers are new to the area or existing companies. Speaking generally, however, Anderson said the county seems to be getting looks from firms with ties to oil and gas industries.

“We’ve seen a very interesting, very busy start to the year,” Anderson said. “We’ve had five or six business attractions so far this year. (That many) good leads is very positive.”

Early last year the city completed work on a $1.1 million upgrade to the East Conneaut park, building an access road and expanding utilities. Plans are afoot to relocate the municipal compost site that sits on land available to developers.

In the meantime, Growth Partnership is assisting the Conneaut Port Authority and Erie County, Pa., in efforts to make a multi-million dollar inland port project a reality, Anderson said. In the works for the past few years, the project envisions a storage/shipping/transportation center in the area of northeast Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania.

“(GP) has a very good relationship with the city of Conneaut,” he said.

Overall, the county seems to be showing signs of an economic revival, Anderson said. A survey of companies showed that more than half were “in the mode” to hire extra workers, he said.

“Things are generally more positive,” Anderson said.