Why a Port Authority?


Ohio law empowers port authorities with robust economic development abilities.  In order to enhance the economic development efforts already underway in Jefferson County, the Jefferson County Port Authority board was established in the fall of 2012.  The Jefferson County Port Authority (JCPA) now serves as the county’s one-stop economic development office with the goal of strengthening the economy of Jefferson County Ohio. 


Organizational Overview

The Jefferson County Port Authority is recognized under Ohio Revised Code Sec. 4582 as a political subdivision, and it was formed through the cooperative vision of the County Commissioners and the county seat, the City of Steubenville.  JCPA staff is governed by a nine-member board of directors, chosen based on their diverse areas of expertise in business, financing, and real estate.  The directors are selected by the founding governments, as well as the Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission (City of Steubenville and County Commissioners are each responsible for 4 appointments and Regional Planning for 1).  While the JCPA is a political body governed only by the nine-member board, it will remain focused on inviting private and non-profit investors to supplement JCPA’s public funds with their private donations.  JCPA meets quarterly with these investors for feedback on development initiatives.

Many areas throughout Ohio have formed a port authority to oversee economic development.  Of course, “Economic Development” can take on many different definitions, with various agencies playing important roles in community progress.  While JCPA works cooperatively with all local stakeholders and develops specific annual workplans, the list below outlines some major areas of responsibility and leadership that citizens should expect specifically from JCPA:

1.    Marketing for Industrial/Manufacturing Growth: JCPA holds the belief that the “economic base” of a county like Jefferson will be formed by industries that export products and services around the world (agriculture, manufacturing, mineral extraction, or commercial back office operations), creating quality high-paying jobs for local citizens.  Therefore, JCPA will annually develop a plan to market major industrial development sites to domestic and international companies and consultants.

2.    Property Development Services:

a.    OhioOne Database: The State of Ohio has established a statewide database of commercial and industrial listings.  County-level leaders like JCPA maintain their county’s listings and work in concert with State partners to respond to investment leads and inquiries.  The database also serves as a valuable resource for local entrepreneurs researching development sites.  JCPA strives throughout the year to maintain an up-to-date database.

b.    Jefferson County Industrial Park: JCPA manages the County-owned industrial park on CR 43.  County Commissioners have authorized JCPA to oversee the negotiation process with prospects that have clear plans to build facilities that offer quality jobs.  The Park is a very important county asset, as it offers large, shovel-ready sites suitable to modern manufacturing.     

c.    Site Development/Expansion: JCPA strives to be a close partner to public and private sector development partners.  Expansion and acquisition of strategic industrial sites, utilizing a Port’s financing and grant procurement services, is a top priority for JCPA.

3.    Management of the Site Selection Process:  While JCPA is subject to Ohio’s public agency laws, the Ohio Revised Code allows ports to maintain confidential information throughout a business transaction.  Modern industrial site selection is often a complex, multi-stage process involving consultant requests for information pertaining to demographics, infrastructure, tax rates, incentive opportunities, etc.  JCPA staff is experienced in managing the confidential process from start-to-finish and hopes to be of service to all public and private sector partners throughout the county.  

4.    Financing and Land Assembly Services:  Like other types of development entities, ports have the ability to issue industrial development bonds (IDB’s) to supplement other forms of financing for large-scale projects.  However, JCPA brings with it two unique services that could be critical as communities develop plans for major industrial recruitment or land redevelopment:

a.    The power to own real estate tax-free until a private entity buys or leases the facility.  This could be a critical tool as leaders throughout the county strive to recruit industry to large, complex development areas that require creative land assembly.

b.    For large-scale construction projects resulting in strong job creation, Ohio ports have the ability to act as a conduit that can pass along sales tax savings on the construction materials.

5.    Management of the Enterprise Zone Tax Abatement Program:  Jefferson County’s Enterprise Zones (former in compliance with State law) offer communities the ability to negotiate property tax abatements during the manufacturing recruitment process.  JCPA is on record at the State of Ohio as the manager of these zones.  This does not mean that JCPA has any power to grant tax abatements; instead, we are asked to manage the application, negotiation and public meeting phases of the process.
6.    Infrastructure Improvement Strategies:  JCPA is a strong believer in the value of quality infrastructure (road, rail, air, and river) as a major driver of the county’s future prosperity.  JCPA welcomes the opportunity to meet with communities and private site developers to explore various grants and loans, as well as financing mechanisms available through port authorities.

7.    Partnerships with Local Industry: JCPA works hand-in-hand with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (a JobsOhio subsidiary) and the Business Resource Network to address the expansion needs and opportunities of local industry throughout Jefferson County.  JCPA consistently strives to balance this work with the need to market the county to decision-makers beyond our borders.


600 Airpark Drive
Wintersville, OH 43953
(740) 283-2476