Officials to seek help on airport goals

By Ed Runyan


Western Reserve Port Authority will seek help from the Ohio Department of Development on two of the airport’s goals — bringing daily commercial air service back to the airport and encouraging industrial development on airport property.

Today, airport officials and local legislators will talk to the ODOD in Columbus to ask for help coming up with the revenue-guarantee money that will be needed to attract an airline.

Dan Dickten, the airport’s director of aviation, has said the airport needs to offer an airline $2 million per year for two years — money the airline could “draw down” in the event that offering the flights is not self-supporting at first.

Local officials such as State Rep. Sean O’Brien of Brookfield, D-65th, Eric Planey of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, and others will participate in person or by conference call, Dickten said.

Meanwhile, Rose Ann DeLeon, executive director or the port authority, whose focus is economic development, announced at Wednesday’s port authority meeting that she hopes to apply for money through the fourth and final round of the ODOD’s Jobs Ready Site program.

The port authority would use the funding — up to $3 million — to prepare a site at the airport for use by an aviation-related or cargo business.

The program is called Jobs Ready because it involves preparing a site so that it has the water, sewer and roads it needs so a company can develop it quickly.

The CASTLO Industrial Park in Struthers was awarded a $3.5 million Jobs Ready Site grant last year to demolish a 312,000-square foot building and redevelop 66 acres, including environmental cleanup and the extension of the road and utilities.

DeLeon noted that the Jobs Ready program has not funded an aviation-related project in any of the three earlier funding rounds.

DeLeon also announced that she is working to help an unnamed Youngstown manufacturing company secure financing so it can undertake a $25 million expansion project.

The company would likely be ready to expand by the end of this year or early 2012, DeLeon said, adding that it is not known how many jobs would be created.

Dickten also announced he expects Allegiant Air, which offers flights to leisure destinations Orlando, St. Petersburg and Myrtle Beach, to add another destination in the coming months.

Dickten said he expects that location to be either Punta Gorda, about 12 miles north of Fort Myers, or Fort Lauderdale. An announcement is likely this summer, and service is likely to begin in November, Dickten said.

The port authority also approved a media policy and public-records request policy.

The media policy assigns the board chairman the duty of giving information to the media in “an effort to provide an accurate and cohesive message.”

Comments given by other board members should include an acknowledgment that “their opinion is their own and not that of the authority.”

The port authority’s attorney is designated as the person who will fill requests for public records.

At a special meeting last week, the authority hired Atty. Charles Richards of Warren to respond to a public-records request filed by the Ohio Ethics Commission in connection with an investigation it is conducting of a ground lease approved by the port authority in 2009. Richards will be paid up to $5,000.

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