Local entrepreneur receives $18K loan from Port Authority for new business – The Daily Jeffersonian

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The Guernsey County Port Authority voted to table a decision regarding accepting the Harper-Hutchison Building from Ohio Bridge. The property transfer is a condition of an approval by the City of Cambridge to close a potion of Gomber Avenue in order for the bridge manufacturer to expand its business on the city's West End. Port Authority officials want to obtain additional information regarding the property prior to a vote.

The Guernsey County Port Authority recently approved an $18,000 loan request by local entrepreneur Cheryl Cota in order for her to return to business as Cheryl’s Ideal Embroidery.

The business will operate from the basement of Cota’s home and offer many forms of embroidery work including letterman’s jackets for area school students and “in memory” items.

Board members cited Cota’s 19 years of experience in the embroidery business and the quality of her previous work as factors for approving the five-year loan.

“She has a good grip on the business,” said board member Pete Mikula.

The Guernsey County Port Authority offers loans up to $25,000 with interest rates of 1 percent below prime to assist individuals with starting a business or expanding a current business.

The interest rate for the loan approved for Cheryl’s Ideal Embroidery is 2.25%.

The loans are backed by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Members unanimously approved the request after the Port Authority’s Loan Committee approved submitting the request to the board during it’s meeting on Aug. 10.

“Ms. Cota’s reputation for quality work was well respected in her previous business experience,” the loan committee said in making it’s recommendation to the full board.

Cota has contacted local shops from which she would secure embroidery contracts after two such businesses stopped offering the service, according to the Port Authority.

Marketing for Chery’s Ideal Embroidery will be accomplished through local billboards and social media.

In other financial news, the treasurer’s reports submitted by Ed Wright for June and July after not meeting last month, and the bank statements for Cambridge Renaissance LLC were approved by the board.

The Port Authority currently has a bank balance in excess of $319,800.

Executive Director Norm Blanchard discussed the proposed transfer of the Harper-Hutchison building on Steubenville Avenue in Cambridge from Ohio Bridge to the Port Authority.

The transfer was a stipulation in the City of Cambridge’s approval to close a portion of Gomber Avenue to traffic for a proposed building expansion by Ohio Bridge doing business as U.S. Bridge.

“The only recurring expense is insurance,” said Blanchard of the building that currently houses the local Secret Santa program.

Blanchard said the building has a few broken windows and the roof leaks, but he doesn’t know much else about the property. The condition of the street closure was announced during the Cambridge City Council meeting on Monday.

Guernsey County Commissioner Skip Gardner agreed to assist the board with research including obtaining tax maps for the property.

The board voted unanimously to table a vote to accept or refuse the property until more information can be collected.

Blanchard said he would discuss the status of the building with Cambridge Mayor Tom Orr and he will contact individuals who previously expressed interest in purchasing the building to see if they are still interested.

The board also discussed a property on South 12th Street that was deeded from the city to the Port Authority for transfer to Bainbridge Companies, a Florida-based group that manages, develops and invests in apartment communities.

Blanchard said the initial proposal for the property was housing for senior citizens.

A law firm representing Bainbridge Companies reportedly requested to delay the transfer to their client until at least Oct. 1 due to an issue with the property.

Board members expressed frustration that the deed was transferred to the Port Authority if there is a legal issue with the property. The move potentially leaves the agency liable for the property.

“We are not a dumping ground,” said President Regis Woods, a sentiment echoed by board member Ed Wright.

The board discussed returning ownership of the property back to the city until all legal issues are resolved, but no action was taken.

The Port Authority will insure the property while it’s owned by the agency.

Other items discussed by Blanchard during the director’s report included:

  • Local officials gave a presentation regarding the $350,000 Turner Avenue improvement project by the City of Cambridge to Ohio Department of Transportation officials on July 15. The city has secured the majority of the funding for the project to improve a parking area and install sidewalks resulting in a $77,000 funding request to ODOT through the Guernsey County Transportation Improvement District. Blanchard said a decision by ODOT officials is expected this month and funding, if approved, would be available in October. The parking lot would provide spaces for city employees and staff at the nearby Area Agency on Aging Region 9 on Wheeling Avenue.
  • Phase III of an on-going expansion project at Colgate-Palmolive on Guernsey Industrial Boulevard is in the planning stages. Phase I created 24 new jobs and $2 million in payroll with a capital investment of $2 million, while Phase II, which is nearly complete, will create eight jobs and $667,000 in payroll with a $20 million capital investment.
  • A kick-off meeting with the Montrose Group for the County Strategic Plan took place on July 13 with 11 local members and two representatives from the Ohio Mid-East Governments Association in attendance. Blanchard said he was disappointed with the attendance and hopes more people will attend future meetings to discuss economic development locally.
  • A $3.5 million project for expansion at the D.O. Hall Business Park was selected by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee to advance to the full house for a vote. The request by Appalachian Partnership Inc. was submitted through the office of U.S. Cong. Bill Johnson. If approved by the House, the proposal would move to the U.S. Senate for the Fiscal year 2022 budget.
  • Blanchard discussed a new market loan program administered by Wesbanco. The subsidized business loans for non-profit and for-profit applicants offer a 50% market rate reduction for up to seven years with no origination fees.