T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Jason Hamman, economic development representative for Monroe County, gives Monroe County Commissioners, pictured across the table, an update Monday afternoon on economic development in the county. Pictured are Commissioners, from left, Mick Schumacher, Bill Bolon and Diane Burkhart.

WOODSFIELD — Jason Hamman, economic development representative for Monroe County, said there are plenty of exciting things happening in the county.

Hamman gave the Monroe County Board of Commissioners an update on a number of pending and ongoing projects in the county including regarding grant funds, progress at the Industrial Park and the possibility of a new hotel.

Hamman said they prepared and submitted applications through the Brownfield Remediation Grant for asbestos remediation and demolition for the former Beallsville and Clarinton elementary schools, and sub-surface concrete demolition at Long Ridge Energy Terminal. The requested amount totals $9 million – $900,000 for the two schools and $8.1 million for LRET.

“This was submitted as part of the competitive funding pool. … That competitive funding pool requires 25% match on behalf of the application, so Long Ridge has spent a lot of their own money already to help get this part of the property ready for development. Their 25% match was roughly $2.7 or so million,” he said.

Hamman said they have also submitted applications for the construction of four wifi towers. He said they have requested around $1.4 million for the project.

“That would be to construct wireless communication towers – one in Woodsfield, Clarington, Hannibal, and one in Sardis – that would be able to carry not only wireless internet but also cell phone signal, cell phone carriers as well,” he said, adding that the project is “100% grant funded.”

Hamman also spoke about the Powhatan No. 7 barge cell repair and access road construction project. He said they were awarded around $2.75 million in grant funding and loans for the project. The barge cell repair work to 12 cells is set to begin within the next 30 days. The second phase of the project, the access road to the site, will be put out for bid once work on the cells gets underway.

“That’s going to open up the site and make it a lot more ready for future development,” he added.

Another job creator in the county is the Newlight Technologies partnership with the Long Ridge Energy Terminal. Hamman said the companies recently announced their partnership, along with CNX Resources Corporation, and plan to produce Aircarbon – a naturally-occurring molecule that replaces plastic but is carbon-negative and biologically degradable.

“Newlight is building a new facility at Long Ridge Energy Terminal. This project will have a capital investment of more than $300 million. It’s expected to create 95 full-time jobs and those jobs will have an average annual salary of close to $70,000,” he said.

“They (Newlight) have actually pioneered this process to make a plastic product that is biodegradable.”

Hamman said the county was in “stiff competition” with North Dakota for the location of the facility.

“I think the strength of our incentive offer combined with JobsOhio along with the assets the Long Ridge Energy Terminal has, sealed the deal for this one,” he added.

In response to a question from Commissioner Diane Burkhart, a groundbreaking date for the facility has not been established.

Hamman next touched on the proposed Cobblestone Hotel, which is an idea to construct a 54-unit, three-story hotel just outside Woodsfield. The project is anticipated to cost just over $8 million. He said they have a meeting with a potential bank – Richwood Bank – that may be interested in financing the hotel. Prospective investors are set to meet with the bank at 4 p.m. today at the Woodsfield administrative building.

“It’s very exciting. Now that the world, knock on wood, is returning to normal from the pandemic the last couple of years, we’re optimistic about seeing a rebound in hospitality and some of the other sectors that go along with that,” he said.

Additionally, Hamman said they are working to promote the nine-acre riverfront area at Cochransville for residential development. The property, located along the border of Washington County and Ohio 7, was donated to the county Port Authority by the Monroe County Community Improvement Corporation.

“We think the residential development on the river is attractive in a number of different scenarios whether it’s condos, whether it’s cottages, vacation rentals,” he said. “We think that the opportunity is right.”

Hamman said since the port authority acquired the Hannibal Industrial Park at the end of 2021, they have leased acreage to a couple of new tenants as well as expansions of another. OnWatt, a cryptocurrency mining and repair/maintenance facility for mining machines, has relocated its headquarters from New York to the industrial park.

“They’re estimating within the first three years of operations, they’ll hire up to 40 full-time individuals with entry-level wages beginning at $17 per hour, or up,” he said, adding that the company has leased 20,000 square feet at the site.

Lastly, Hamman said that the Monroe County Port Authority was awarded a $4 million grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation’s Maritime Assistance Program to construct a barge loading and unloading dock at the Industrial Park. He said preliminary engineering work on the dock has been completed with proposals received for the design work and roadwork to the site. He said they are working with current and prospective tenants who are interested in utilizing the dock once completed.

Today’s breaking news and more in your inbox