Economic Development

Joseph Hints about Another Project Beyond Chill-Cans

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In about 45 days, the Mahoning Valley will learn about a project that Mitchell Joseph promised Thursday would “light up the city of Youngstown.”

Joseph, chairman and CEO of Joseph Company International and West Coast Chill, referred to the development in his remarks after accepting the Business Professional of the Year Award at the Salute to Business breakfast of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber (READ STORY).

“I can assure you that Cleveland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Philadelphia, all of them will come here and look at what we’re doing, and it will be one of a kind. Trust me,” Joseph told The Business Journal in an interview afterward. “This is a legacy concept theme that we’re going to build here.”

He declined to provide further details, other than to offer that he anticipates making a major announcement in six weeks.

Joseph International is building a $20 million manufacturing and research campus of half a dozen buildings on the East Side. There the proprietary self-chilling can technology the company has developed will be used. The eight-block site includes the property where Joseph’s great-grandfather and grandfather operated as the Star Bottling Co. from 1921 to 1970.

“We are not just bringing you a beverage company. We are bringing you patented, cutting-edge technology that cannot be reproduced or duplicated anywhere in the world,” he said.

Ground was broken on the project last fall, and the state of Ohio approved a job creation tax credit yesterday to support the project that is projected to employ more than 250 over the next few years.

Contractors just completed erection of the second building on the campus, Joseph reported.

Ironworkers have been on the job most of this year.

“Our third building now is in a situation where it’s been ordered,” he continued. “We have approximately six pads ready for buildings and we’re now starting to look at the infrastructure … but we anticipate some type of production by the summer of 2018.”

Hiring should begin in the fourth quarter starting with security personnel, logistics and labor, he said. As the machinery becomes available to be installed in the buildings, engineers and others with technical skills will be hired, he said.

Joseph pointed out that all of the construction contracts for the project went to local firms, even when their bids weren’t the lowest. “We had bids from out of town, out of state,” he said, “but we chose these bids because they’re Youngstown contractors and we wanted the business to stay here.”

Contractor Parella-Panunzio Inc. moved more than 63,000 metric tons of dirt, enough to cover a football field 29 times, and dug up more than 1,400 tires, guns and other items. “You can imagine a 150-year-old city block, what [the company has] found,” he said.

No gold was found, he added.

Among the individuals and organizations Joseph singled is the Mahoning County Land Reutilization Corp., also known as the Mahoning County Land Bank, and its executive director, Debora Flora.

“You had eight city blocks and there were two pieces of property right smack in the middle that would have prohibited us from building,” he said. “She and her organization were able to do exchanges and get us the properties.”

The land bank has been working with Joseph since 2014, “when he first came to town to talk to us about his concept,” Flora said.

“It took us some time to look at the situation, gather some information and figure out what slice of that we could undertake,” she said. “We’re so happy to have played that role and excited about the construction that’s going on right now.”

She looks forward not only to the job creation but the relationship developing between the company and Youngstown State University, and the training opportunities expected to result.

The Chill-Can complex could be just the start of Joseph’s plans for Youngstown. The city will soon be known as a home of self-contained cooling technology and artificial intelligence as it once was for steel, he said.

“We’re going to be looking heavily now in artificial intelligence” related to the hospitality industry, he said. “The fast-food industry is starting to go more into computes and nonhumans touching food. We’re going to be involved with that as well.”

Pictured at top: Mitchell Joseph visits the chill-can site following the Regional Chamber’s Salute to Business, where he was presented an award.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.