Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport meeting focuses on foreign trade zones

West Virginia Economic Development Authority Executive Director David Warner, left, speaks about foreign trade zones during a presentation in Jerry’s Fly Away Kitchen at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Wednesday as airport Manager Glen Kelly, center, and Wood County Airport Authority President Bill Richardson listen.

WILLIAMSTOWN — The potential advantages of establishing a foreign trade zone at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport were outlined at a luncheon meeting Wednesday in the airport restaurant.

More than 30 local officials and business leaders attended the presentation, organized by the airport, Wood County Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The main advantage of such a zone is that materials shipped into the United States aren’t subject to import tariffs or duties while at the location.

“You’re not paying the customs duties when it comes into the zone,” said David Warner, executive director of the West Virginia Economic Development Authority. “It’s only when the finished product enters commerce in the United States; that’s when the duty’s paid.”

A company could import components from outside the country, then assemble the product and pay the fee on the completed item rather than the parts, if that’s lower. The company could also ship the product to another foreign trade zone without being assessed fees. If the assembled product is exported out of the country, no duty is imposed, Warner said.

West Virginia Economic Development Authority Executive Director David Warner speaks about foreign trade zones during a presentation in Jerry’s Fly Away Kitchen at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Wednesday.

The idea has been pitched by airport Manager Glen Kelly as a way to “promote the airport as a key piece of infrastructure for economic development.”

Warner said it costs $75,000 to $100,000 a year to manage a foreign trade zone, which requires one or two staff members to communicate with U.S. Customs.

“Your site has to be completely fenced; you have to have security,” he said.

Merchandise can be stored in a foreign trade zone facility indefinitely and is not subject to personal property tax while there, Warner said.

Possible sites for foreign trade zone facilities include the former National Guard facility at the airport and the nearby industrial park.

Wood County Airport Authority member Terry Moore asks a question during a meeting about foreign trade zones Wednesday at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport restaurant, Jerry’s Fly Away Kitchen.

Kelly said the zone could be a shared expense between multiple companies or operated by a single business.

“If we can help some businesses build up a shared foreign trade zone, great,” he said. “(Or) if we have one or two that say we want a foreign trade zone for our own business, the whole valley’s going to benefit.”

The process for a company to apply for a foreign trade zone normally takes more than a year, but Warner said a reorganization approved in 2017 by the federal Foreign Trade Zones Board expanded the service area of an existing zone in Charleston to 18 counties, including Wood, Calhoun, Jackson, Roane and Wirt. That allows for a streamlined application and approval process for new sub-zones, he said.

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce, Vienna Development Director Paul Thornton and Wood County Commissioners Blair Couch and Bob Tebay were among the public officials at the meeting. A representative of Hino Motors was in attendance, as well as representatives of local banks, consulting firms and at least one hotel.

Todd Nestor, market president for BB&T, said he thinks establishing a foreign trade zone could not only benefit the businesses that would make direct use of it, but ancillary companies as well.

“All these other businesses that may come into town because of that, there’s opportunity for us as well,” he said.

David Williams, vice president of Managers Resources Group Inc., said he used to work for an aerospace distribution company that dealt with global distribution and he was intrigued by the proposal.

“I see it from the economic stimulus opportunity that exists here in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” he said. “It just gets my wheels turning about the things we could do here.”

Wood County Economic Development Executive Director Lindsey Piersol asked businesses interested in the foreign trade zone concept to contact her office at 304-422-5650 or the airport at 304-464-5113.

Original article  ➤

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