Monroe County Commissioners Support New Port District in Woodsfield

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Posted September 11, 2017

Monroe County’s 29 miles of riverfront property soon may be part of a new port district overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The proposed Mid-Ohio River Valley Port District would stretch from the Gallia/Meigs county line in the south, up the Ohio River to include Columbiana County. According to Karen Pawloski, transportation planning coordinator with Buckeye Hills Regional Council, the new district would support economic development in the included area through the collection of “waterborne commerce statistics” by the Army Corps along the river.

“The proposed creation of the statistical boundaries will provide significant marketing and may result in investment opportunities leading to job creation and economic growth for Monroe County, Ohio and West Virginia,” states a resolution supporting the creation of the port district that was signed by Monroe County commissioners this week. “Creation of statistical boundaries of the Mid-Ohio River Valley Port District would more accurately reflect the local waterborne commerce activity and increase tonnage recorded by the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Navigation and Civil Works Decision Support Center, elevating the rank of the Port among the inland ports in the United States.”

Pawloski said there is a similar statistical port district for collection of commerce data from Columbiana County northward, and one from the Gallia/Meigs County line southwest to Cincinnati, but presently no port district lies in between. Pawloski said all commerce currently is “self-reported” by boat captains to the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We will be able to use the data gathered from this for economic development and marketing purposes,” Pawloski said. “We are asking for support from elected officials on both sides of the river. This will allow us to be able to determine what is actually being traversed up and down the river.”

Pawloski said she believes this will be a benefit to the counties along the river that will be included in the statistical port district and will not add another level of government or bureaucracy to the economic mix.

“Cincinnati joined with Kentucky a few years ago to create their statistical port,” Pawloski said. “This data could be used for many purposes. Buckeye Hills can use the data as part of our Regional Transportation Planning organization. Private companies would be able to use the information, economic development offices, and organizations like the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth.”

Pawloski said Buckeye Hills has already garnered support for the new port district from commissioners in Athens and Washington counties, as well as from U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, also has provided a letter of support, Pawloski said.

“My understanding is my partners over in West Virginia are getting the same support,”she added.

Pawloski said the paperwork to form the district will be submitted by Oct. 1 to federal authorities to seek their approval of the district.

“They just like to have local elected officials show their support,” Pawloski said.

Source: The Intelligencer