Awards & Events

Regional Chamber Honors Siderewicz, Small, Meacham

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BOARDMAN, Ohio – A retired banker who’s given much of himself to the Mahoning Valley Thursday enjoyed the distinction of honoring another banker who’s returned much to the Valley with the award created in his honor, the Donald Cagigas Spirit of the Chamber Award.

Donald Cagigas presented the award to Gary Small, president and CEO of United Community Financial Corp. and Home Savings Bank.

Small is one of four men recognized at the annual meeting of the Youngstown Warren Reginal Chamber.

The others were Bill Siderewicz, president of Boston-based Clean Energy Future, presented the William G. Lyden Jr. Spirit of the Valley Award, and Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who shared the chamber Chairman’s Political Achievement Award.

Siderewicz heads the company building two $1 billion electric-generation plants in Lordstown, one under construction, the other to begin construction next year.

It’s what Siderewicz is doing beyond building the plants that one day will add a $2 million annual payroll to the Mahoning Valley that earned him the recognition, Erin Maloney said.

Maloney is sales manager for key accounts at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, which underwrote the awards the chamber presented.

Clean Energy is committed to providing residents of the Valley the lowest prices for electricity, Siderewicz said, and is helped by the region, the Appalachian Basin, sitting atop the third-largest reserves of natural gas in the world.

Since 2010, the United States has become an exporter of energy instead of an importer. The United States consumes 40% of all natural gas produced in the world and the Clean Energy plants in Lordstown will allow the Valley to enjoy the lowest-cost electricity not just in Ohio or the United States but the world, Siderewicz said.

He credited “the incredible team that helped us get here,” the chamber, the Routh Hurlburt Real Estate team of Chuck Joseph, Dan Crouse and Bud Gruger, the mayors of Lordstown, Warren and Niles, Mahoning Valley Sanitary District board member Matthew J. Blair, and KeyBank (which is furnishing $50 million) in building the plants.

Siderewicz also saluted the president of Youngstown State University, Jim Tressel, and the chairwoman of its industrial and systems engineering department, associate professor Hazel Marie, for their involvement in setting up the summer internships for YSU engineering students that will take them to cities elsewhere in the United States to work for energy companies.

It was Small’s participation in the chamber’s Victory for Our Valley campaign last year – both financial and moral support,” as Maloney put it — that earned him the accolades the Regional Chamber bestowed.

The additive-manufacturing or 3-D production of the Donald Trump bobblehead, displayed for the world to see in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, earned international press coverage, Maloney said. The dividends, though, were the resultant 13 selectors who visited the Mahoning Valley and saw firsthand all it offers.

Among the state from which the site selectors hailed were California, Arizona and Georgia.

Smart credited the chamber vice president for government affairs, Guy Coviello, for “the moon shot” – the hope that the life-sized gray bobblehead of Trump – would draw attention to the Mahoning Valley.

Their commitment to transparency in government caused the chamber to honor Meacham and Mandel.

Mandel created the website “Ohiocheckbook.com” on the premise that it would make it easier for residents of Ohio to see how county and municipal governments and school boards in the Buckeye State to learn how they disburse their funds, whether for employee wages and salaries, construction, fuel and utilities or any other expenditure.

Shortly after he was elected, Meacham became the first elected official in Ohio to make his office’s checkbook available on Ohiocheckbook.com. Mandel came to Youngstown to announce his participation.

Since then, more than another thousand public entities in Ohio have agreed to participate, his chief of staff, Kevin Bonacci, said.

(Mandel was out of the state and sent a video of his acceptance.)

“We earned Ohio the No. 1 ranking in America for transparency,” Mandel said on the video.

Since becoming auditor, Meacham said, Mahoning County has moved to first place in transparency from 46th among the 88 counties.

In his acceptance, Meacham began by remarking how the leader of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, had designed his green tie adorned with shamrocks. “What a long strange trip it’s been,” he said of his entry into public life.

Then he noted the closeness of a major Irish holiday, the feast day of St. Oliver Plunkett, an ancestor, July 1. July 1 was the day in 1681 that Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered by the English for high treason.

Plunkett, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Armaugh and primate of all Ireland, was the last victim of the Popish Plot. Meacham traces his ancestry to Plunkett through his mother.

The Catholic Church beatified Plunkett in 1920 and canonized him in 1975, making him the first new saint in Ireland in nearly 700 years.

Pictured: Gary Small, Ralph Meacham, Tom Humphries and Bill Siderewicz.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.