Economic Development

Development ‘Coming Up Roses’ in Lordstown

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – A large swath of acreage that was once dominated by tall woods along state Route 45 is now mostly felled trees and brush, as development moves forward with a proposed industrial park on land once owned by General Motors Corp.

“Right now, we’re busy cutting down trees and getting the site ready for industrial development,” says Chad Meyer, president and COO of NorthPoint Development, based in Kansas City. The company specializes in developing land into logistics parks that serve big industrial operations, such as GM’s Lordstown complex nearby.

Among the first projects proposed for the site would be an 850,000-square-foot warehouse where a supporting supply operation could locate, Meyer notes.

“There’s nothing definitive to discuss yet,” he cautions. “We’re working with GM and its supplier right now on a business case.”

NorthPoint has had success developing industrial land near major production plants. The company developed a similar park in Fairfax, Kansas just outside Kansas City, near a GM plant there, and wants to replicate the same model in Lordstown. “We’ll have a better handle as to where we stand in about six to eight weeks.”

Meyer says his company is working with both tier-one automotive suppliers and non-automotive companies to locate its business to the area. “We didn’t buy the land to sit on it. We want to put it to productive use,” he says.

So far, there’s no site plan for the park, now dubbed the Lordstown Logistics Center. However, there’s enough room to build 1.5 million square-feet of industrial space and employ 1,500 people.

NorthPoint purchased 173.5 acres from the Racer Trust, which took possession of surplus industrial land after GM declared bankruptcy in 2009.

Two other major projects announced last year in Lordstown are also making headway.

Structural steel is now rising from Matalco Inc.’s worksite at the Ohio Commerce Park. The company is constructing a $125 million aluminum smelting plant that will manufacture aluminum billets used in the extrusion process.

And, just across the street from NorthPoint’s development is the Lordstown Industrial Park, where Clean Energy Future Lordstown LLC is proceeding with its plans to build an $820 million electrical plant that’s fueled by natural gas.

“We’ve submitted the air permit to the Ohio EPA and a permit to construct with the Ohio Power Siting Board in Columbus,” says Bill Siderwiscz, president of Boston-based Clean Energy Future.

Other permit applications, such as a building permit before the Village of Lordstown, should be submitted in about a month, he says.

Siderwiscz says that permitting process in Ohio moves much faster than in other states. “We should get some feedback in a few months, we’re hoping by July. We should be in position to break ground by September of this year,” once financing for the project closes.

Engineers are now assessing the proposed site for the project – vacant land along Henn Parkway in the Lordstown Industrial Park. “We’ve done things such as drill below the surface to find out what lies down there,” Siderwiscz says.

Such tests are necessary because the plant will include turbines that weigh four million pounds rotating at 36 rpm, he says.

The equipment will be manufactured by Siemens Corp. at one of its plants in North Carolina, Siderwiscz says. However, local contractors and suppliers should see a remarkable amount of business because of the project.

“It should have a $1.5 billion positive impact on the region,” he estimates.

Mayor Arno Hill says officials from Clean Energy are in town every two to three weeks taking care of the project’s progress. “Everything is still ago. The land’s locked up, all the permits have been applied for, and now it’s just taking care of the incidentals.”

Hill says these three projects – not to mention additional investment in GM’s manufacturing plant here – has kept the village very busy.

“Between last year and this year, things are coming up roses in Lordstown,” he says.

Pictured: Matalco Inc.s construction site in the village of Lordstown.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.