Ports & Terminals

Ohio Maritime Assistance Program Announces First Grant Recipients

Two river terminal operators received a total of more than $1.43 million in grants from the state of Ohio recently through the new Ohio Maritime Assistance Program.

S.H. Bell Company received $1,005,695 to expand its dock by 200 feet, increasing the company’s ability to move more cargo, according to the Columbiana County (Ohio) Port Authority. The existing dock had a projected lifespan of 20 years, which has already been exceeded.

Parsons Terminal was awarded $425,000 to resurface the 20,180-square-foot dock and purchase two front-end loaders. The new concrete deck surface will allow cranes to travel the dock’s entire length, increasing the number of barges that can be unloaded at one time. The front-end loaders will take material from the dock to storage.

Each of the projects requires a dollar-for-dollar match by the company receiving the grant. The port authority will administer the grant and be the pass-through for the funds.

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The grants were awarded at the June 22 meeting of the Columbiana County Port Authority, which applied for the grants on behalf of both companies. Once the port authority receives the grant agreements through ODOT, the port authority board can start the bid process for the projects.

The Ohio legislature created the Ohio Maritime Assistance Program (MAP) last year to increase cargo handling on Ohio’s waters. MAP awarded $18.8 million in funding to companies with projects on the Ohio River and Lake Erie under round 1, with the additional funding going to four projects on Lake Erie sponsored by the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, according to Mark Locker, manager of freight, maritime and logistics for Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Statewide Planning and Research.

ODOT announced a second round MAP funding availability of $4.19 million June 30 as part of a request for application. Projects require a 50 percent match and are for construction-ready projects that can be bid out by the Ohio Port Authority within 180 days of an award letter from ODOT or by March 31, 2021, whichever is later. Port authorities must own an active marine cargo terminal on the Ohio River, on Lake Erie or on a Lake Erie tributary to qualify, and the project must be in a federally qualified opportunity zone.

ODOT noted that construction-ready projects will likely have completed construction plans approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or environmental permits and acquired real estate. Applicants will have until 4 p.m. Aug. 28 to submit eligible projects. An electronic submission form and other information are available at www.maritime.ohio.gov under the Maritime Assistance Program section of the page.

Penny Traina, executive director of the Columbiana County Port Authority, praised the new program.

“We feel this was the first significant source of ODOT funding that was dedicated specifically to water-based freight,” she said.

She added that the grant funding will allow the port authority to increase the capability of cargo handling to facilitate commerce in an area that is a rapidly growing region with petrochemical plant construction projects both upstream and downstream of the port on the Ohio River.

Columbiana County moved 2.3 million tons of cargo on the Ohio River in 2018, the last year for which data was available. Traina sees that number as likely to continue to grow over the coming decade.

Traina said the port authority is already working with another company on its request for funding under the second round of the MAP program.

The MAP grant funding is especially important to maritime industries in Ohio as Traina noted the state’s Industry Sector Partnership Grant will not be awarded this year as a result of the economic impact of COVID-19,which has led to a reduction of $775 million in Ohio’s general fund. The Columbiana County Port Authority had sought a $150,000 grant through the program for job training and work force education in the manufacturing field.