Economic Development

$10M in Upgrades Slated for Trumbull’s Golden Triangle

WARREN, Ohio – The industrial sector situated mostly in Howland Township and known as the “Golden Triangle” is poised for much needed infrastructure improvements that officials say are critical to expanding manufacturing interests there.

About $10 million in infrastructure projects have been identified for the northwestern part of the township and northeastern section of the city of Warren. When finished, these upgrades would greatly improve the prospects for business growth here, said Gary Shaffer, Trumbull County deputy engineer.

“These projects are vital to the expansion of those industries,” Shaffer said after delivering a presentation at the Good Morning Warren! breakfast at the Trumbull Country Club, hosted by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. “These were barriers that prevented them from hiring more individuals and expanding their businesses,” he said Thursday.

Mercy Health St. Joseph Hospital and Berk Enterprises sponsored the breakfast.

Shaffer said the project involves cooperation between private business, Trumbull County, Howland Township, the city of Warren, and the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

This year, Shaffer said, the goal is to acquire property so work can begin on storm water management along Dietz Road, then start work to extend water lines to industries along Mill Street and Supreme Street in need of the service for fire suppression.

Howland Township obtained a $368,000 grant in CleanOhio funds to buy 60 acres that would be set aside for storm water management, Shaffer said.

“We’re also widening those roads – Mill Street and Supreme Street – in addition to drainage improvements,” he noted. “Those will go to construction later this year.”

The Golden Triangle is generally defined as the industrial section encompassing 687 acres that stretches from the intersection of North Park Avenue and Forest Street in Warren and angles northeast to the properties that front the northern side of North River Road, just east of the Delphi manufacturing plant.

Among the businesses operating there are Wheatland Tube Co., Liberty Steel, Flex-Strut, Concord Steel, Schaefer Equipment, Ajax Tocco, Trumbull Industries, Primetals Technologies, ClarkDietrich Building Systems, RSL, Novelis, and A.D.S. Manufacturing.

Shaffer said his office has contacted these companies and wanted to learn their concerns and ideas on how to improve this section of the county. One priority is to cut an access road that would help alleviate truck traffic and congestion along Dietz Road.

“It’s all about the businesses,” he said. The access road would come from Larchmont Avenue with a connection to Dietz Road. This would allow truck traffic to roll directly into Wheatland Tube Co., a major manufacturer in the triangle. He said the company has committed to donating some land to make way for the new road.

Of the $10 million worth of projects identified, roughly $8 million to $9 million are priorities for the triangle, Shaffer said. So far, the project has received $1.3 million in funding. “We’re moving very quickly, and we’re continuing to identify new projects,” he reported, “and continue to have meetings with those industries.”

Those at the breakfast also heard from Mayor Doug Franklin, who highlighted some of the major accomplishments and development activities that have taken hold throughout the last several years.

“This is not a deteriorating city. This is not a Rust Belt city,” Franklin told a room filled with community and business leaders. “This is a city that is undergoing a rebirth.”

The mayor rattled off a laundry list of projects that have taken hold within the last decade or are under development, emphasizing the new investments downtown and at select industrial sites.

Among the most recent was Warren native Christopher Allen’s purchase of two buildings that formerly housed General Electric Corp.’s Ohio Lamp Plant. Allen plans to move the offices and manufacturing operations of his California-based company, Auto Parkit, to Warren.

And, sites that have sat vacant for years just off downtown could soon see a revival, Franklin said. “We are working with our partners, Howland and Warren townships, in forming a joint economic development district at the old RG Steel site,” the mayor said.

Meanwhile, Franklin said that an investor has expressed interest in vacant property west of downtown – known as The Peninsula – that has been on the market for years. “We now have a developer seeking an option on the property and we hope to have an announcement later this year,” he said.

He pointed to new facade improvements to downtown businesses, including a complete overhaul of the Mahoning Building, made possible because of investor Mark Marvin. The amphitheater, he added, would be expanding with more seating and improved access for the handicapped.

Other renovated landmark buildings downtown include a $2.5 million investment to convert a vacant building into offices for the Raymond J. Wean Foundation, the $3.5 million Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center, or TBEIC, and National Fire Repair’s $1 million renovation of a Civil War-era building downtown on Courthouse Square.

And the mayor pointed to some of the new small businesses downtown, such as Beautiful Whirl’d, a smoothie business, Nova Coffee, Tom Crowley’s Jewelry Shop, and a new brewpub, Modern Method Brewery, which is opening this year.

Warren City Schools have also witnessed an improvement over the past several years, noted Superintendent Steve Chiaro. He emphasized the success the district has enjoyed because of its social and emotional learning program.

“We need to teach students and adults how to function in an environment that is socially and emotionally safe so that they can be stronger and better learners,” he said.

Chiaro reported that out-of-school suspensions in grades K-2 have dropped substantially over the last five years, while expulsions have also decreased.

And, after two decades of decline, enrollment in Warren City Schools is rebounding, Chiaro noted. Over two decades, the superintendent said, Warren City Schools enrollment dropped by 2,500. This year, it increased by 72.

“This is the new Warren, Ohio,” Mayor Franklin said.

WATCH ‘3 Minutes With’ Gary Shaffer, Trumbull County Engineer’s Office

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.