Business briefs

Energy company eyes rail purchase

EAST LIVERPOOL – A tentative agreement has been reached to sell the Columbiana County Port Authority’s railroad to a subsidiary of major player in the shale gas boom.

The port authority agreed last week to enter into a deal they hope will result in the $3 million sale of the railroad to Mule Sidetracks LLC.

Port CEO Tracy Drake said Mule Sidetracks is a subsidiary of MarkWest Energy Partners, the company involved in construction of a $500 million natural gas storage, transportation and fractionization facility near Scio in Harrison County. The port authority believes the rail could facilitate additional development in the region.

The 36-mile former Youngstown & Southern Railroad runs from Boardman in Mahoning County, south through several Columbiana County communities ending near Darlington, Pa.

Chamber opposes anti-frac issue

YOUNGSTOWN – The Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber Board of Directors has voted to support the Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment’s effort to defeat another anti-oil-and-gas charter amendment in Youngstown.

The anti-frac amendment will appear on the November ballot in Youngstown as a “Community Bill of Rights”

The Mahoning Valley Coalition for Job Growth and Investment is a partnership of business, political, labor and community leaders united in support of shale development and in opposition to the proposed Youngstown charter amendment. The chamber helped to form the group.

Last May, the coalition worked to defeat a similar charter amendment on the city ballot. In July, the coalition announced its opposition to another attempt to put a local bill of rights on the November ballot.

Tom Humphries, chamber president and CEO, called the issue a “bad idea.”

“City residents gave a clear message in May that they supported the oil and gas industry and the jobs and opportunities being provided to the Mahoning Valley. We believe they will again vote down this anti-job, anti-growth measure on the November ballot,” Humphries said.

Ford buys software startup Livio

DETROIT – A software company founded by a former Delphi Corp. employee from Michigan has been acquired by Ford Motor Co. in a bid to help drivers more safely access content on their smartphone while on the road.

Livio, based in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale, Mich., develops software that lets drivers connect to their smartphones through their car radios or dashboard infotainment systems. It was founded five years ago by Jake Sigal, a former employee of parts supplier Delphi Corp. Ford paid less than $10 million for the 11-person startup, the company’s first technology acquistion in 13 years, said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technical officer. Though owned by Ford, Livio will keep supplying its current customers, including General Motors Co.

Livio allows drivers to safely access phone apps like Pandora, Major League Baseball and Spotify from their cars by voice recognition. It will be in about 7 million vehicles by 2015.

EGCC, jobs group become partners

STEUBENVILLE – Eastern Gateway Community College and Ohio Means Jobs have formed the first partnership in the state of Ohio that brings a satellite office of the job center to a college campus.

Ohio Means Jobs Jefferson County established a satellite office on Eastern Gateway’s Jefferson County campus this fall to serve students, graduates and the public with their employment quests.

Eastern Gateway sought the partnership on its Jefferson County campus and is working to establish similar partnerships in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, according to EGCC President Laura Meeks.

It is hoped the partnership will bring an array of services and outreach opportunities to our students and graduates.