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A freight company at the Toledo Express Airport will receive a financial boost from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to market the facility and its services.
The port authority board of directors agreed Thursday to new terms for a facilities and services management agreement with BX Solutions Inc., which has occupied a port authority-owned cargo sort facility since 2011 but has seen its employees and operation scaled back significantly.
Under the amended contract, BX Solutions will continue to pay a $500,000 annual fee, and the port authority will support marketing and sales efforts with $350,000 annually to attract new customers. The authority also agreed to pay for utilities, estimated to cost about $240,000 yearly.
The board voted 10-3 to approve the revised agreement; Jerry Chabler, Andrea Price, and G. Opie Rollison cast “no” votes.
Supporters think the new terms give the company the best chance to create local jobs.
BX Solutions took over the facility after BAX Global pulled out in 2011. At its peak, BX Solutions employed nearly 600 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers who handled and sorted packages for Amazon, said Paul Toth, the port authority’s president and chief executive officer.
It now employs about 50 to 60 people after the online retail giant stopped using the facility. BX Solutions now occupies about 3,000 square feet in the 279,000-square-foot space, Mr. Toth said.
“What they’ve asked us to do is to give them the time to be able to create this environment so that they can bring in this business,” said board Chairman Nadeem Salem. “We can amend the agreement, give them the opportunity to create something that could be great for this community, or we could not amend the agreement and then all of these costs would be borne by the port authority.”
Opponents described the new deal as a “rent abatement,” wanted more information about the business plan, and expressed concern the assistance won’t produce the desired results.
“I just think we’re subsidizing a pipe dream,” Mr. Rollison said.
The company’s leaders are made up of BAX Global veterans, who saw an opportunity to create local jobs, said Chris Marshall, president and chief executive officer for BX Solutions. It has diversified services and the hub’s location makes it well-placed to provide sorting and other services for ecommerce customers.
“It is a company that is growing into a market space. There are no guarantees, but we are excited about our opportunities,” Mr. Marshall said.
The $350,000 in annual marketing funds will come from the port authority’s airport reserves and be paid monthly, retroactive to January. The agreement allows the port authority to stop payments as of June 30, 2015, if the push doesn’t result in new customers or other conditions aren’t met.
About $2.78 million in state funding was used for hub improvements and the conversion from an airplane-focused to truck-orientated facility.