LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) — A ribbon-cutting event was held Friday in honor of a new global investment hub.

The hub is an economic development with a focus on international trade and attracting foreign companies to the region. It’s a partnership between the Columbiana County Port Authority and the Ohio SBDC Export Assistance Network at Youngstown State University.

Foreign companies will spend a year at the hub location, rent-free, then expand to another location in Northeast Ohio with the help of the Port Authority.

As part of the agreement, one YSU student will be hired as a paid intern for each company at the hub.

“In the 13 counties that Youngstown State University oversees and assists, we have 138 foreign companies from 25 countries and they employ about 17,000 employees,” said Mousa Kassis, director for Export Assistance Network at YSU.

All kinds of foreign companies will be located at the hub center with an emphasis on manufacturing.

“We have a very industrial base in this area,” Kassis said. “It’s the heartland of the United States when it comes to manufacturing. We see a lot of attraction coming from foreign companies to settle here.”