Economic Development

Joseph Promises More Good News about Chill-Can Plant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Joseph Company International CEO Mitchell Joseph said this morning his company would make a pair of “major announcements” in May and September in relation to the $20 million project it is developing on the East Side.

Joseph, whose great-grandfather founded the Star Bottling Co. in 1921, announced last fall that his company would develop what he calls, “not only a bottling company, but a beverage technology complex” on the site of his ancestor’s plant.

“In May, it’ll be very exciting. And in early September, Youngstown will be more than pleasantly surprised,” Joseph said, declining to elaborate further.

Joseph was among the speakers at the Good Morning, Youngstown! breakfast presented by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Joseph’s company, based in Irvine, Calif., has developed a self-chilling can technology that the CEO describes as the “holy grail” of the beverage industry. The plant there can manufacture 28 million cans annually. The company, which was unable to expand in California, “knew that we needed to go to the East Coast” because of the market and transportation issues.

Since his great-grandfather established his second plant in Columbus, Joseph initially investigated that area as a plant site and looked at several properties on the Interstate 270 outer belt, he told the chamber audience. He shifted his focus after Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel advised him that Youngstown was “where it needed to come.”

After discreetly buying property over the past two-and-a-half years, Joseph said his company now owns eight city blocks on the East Side where the chill-can complex will be built.

“It’ll be a conglomeration of four to six buildings over 250,000 square feet,” Joseph said.

The first phase of the project will be two buildings, to be completed by the end of this year, followed by two more in 2018.

“We will also have the ability to erect two or three more buildings on that property,” he continued. The project is being developed in phases because  “you’re not talking 21 acres of farmland,” he said.

In addition, he said the company is in the process of acquiring the former Watson rail terminal on Albert Street. “There’s 1,000 linear feet along the railroad tracks and we can erect a major warehouse for the Lane Avenue project and run a rail right into the building,” Joseph said.

The complex will bring at least 257 jobs into the city, Joseph said, not including an internship program he is working on with YSU, the terminal projects or the additional announcements to be made later this year.

Also at the breakfast, Mayor John McNally shared updates on several quality-of-life and infrastructure initiatives. This year the city is aiming to demolish 520 vacant houses, with 92 brought down to date, he reported.

One of the biggest city projects is the Meridian Road upgrade from Mahoning Avenue to Interstate 680. That stretch of road will be repaved and water lines will be replaced.

“I didn’t realize until I became mayor in 2014 the condition of Meridian Road,” particularly the northern section, McNally said.

The Wick Avenue upgrade now underway should be complete by late September or early October, he added. “That roadway is going to be fantastic,” he remarked.

The long-anticipated amphitheater and riverfront park project also is moving forward, with fill dirt the city purchased from the Interstate 80 improvement project being used to encapsulate the former industrial site and grade the property. The project is on schedule to be finished in 2018, he reported.

Among the points Krish Mohip, Youngstown City Schools CEO, highlighted during his remarks was his effort to bring accountability to the school system.

“I know we have systems and structures in place to elevate our students exponentially,” Mohip said. “We will make the increases that some do not believe is possible.”

Mohip, who came to Youngstown from Chicago, said he wants to elevate the system “to a place where I want to put my children in,” but is concerned by “some of the resistance” he has received in the community.

“I’m frankly surprised by some of the people that resist, people that seem to care about children but don’t want change” he said. “If you’ve been doing something for 20 years that hasn’t worked, why would we continue to do the same?”

He urged members of the business community to allow their employees – and to come in themselves – to read to and interact with students at the schools “to show them what success looks like and how to get here.”

Heidi Daniel, executive director of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, provided an update on the Michael Kusalaba Branch now under construction on the site of the former West Library on Mahoning Avenue. Because of its condition, the branch was one of the first items she was asked to address early on when she was hired in 2012.

The new branch is being funded in part by a $1.68 million donation from the Michael Kusalaba Fund of the Youngstown Foundation. At 11,514 square feet, it is larger than the building it is replacing.

In addition to providing traditional library materials, the branch will offer a technology hub and serve as a base for the library system’s mobile service. The new branch “will be a building that will bring definite energy to that corridor to really revitalize it further and help with the growth and development,” she said.

Completion of the building is expected by the end of this year, with a hoped-for move-in date in January, she said.

Ron Dwinnells, CEO of One Health Ohio, which co-sponsored the chamber event, said the health-care provider will have 10 sites by the end of this year, including in the former Bottom Dollar food building on Glenwood Avenue.

“We’re excited about that project,” he said. Discussions are under way with Mercy Health to provide OB-GYN services, while One Health Ohio would offer medical, behavioral health and other services. “We’re looking at possibly putting an urgent care in there and definitely a food distribution site because the area is very much a food desert,” he added.

Plans call for opening at the site by fall, “no later than the winter of this year,” he said.

Pictured: At Good Morning, Youngstown, Mitchell Joseph said he’ll make two announcements later this year regarding his company’s chill-can plant on the East Side.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.