Awards & Events

Shenango Valley Chamber Honors Landino, Buhl Park

WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. – Jim Landino is challenging others to join him in his efforts to rehabilitate properties in downtown Sharon.

The president of JCL Development was recognized as Shenango Valley Business Ambassador of the Year at the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner, held at the Park Inn by Radisson.

Landino was one of two honorees at the event, where Hermitage’s Buhl Park was presented the Shenango Valley Champion Organization of the Year award.

Rather than recognizing organizations that have been doing “good things for years,” the awards honor those who today “are not only making a difference in our community but are bringing positive attention to the region, helping to put the Shenango Valley on the map as well as attract businesses, visitors and media attention to the community,” said Sherris Moreira, the chamber’s executive director.

But their initiatives should also do at least one more thing: They should help raise the value of this area in the eyes of its residents,” she continued. “They should inspire us to do more ourselves for the Shenango Valley.”

Landino, using the proceeds from the sale of his business, Sunbelt Transformer Inc., has purchased and is renovating several downtown Sharon buildings, including the Applegate and Armory buildings.

We’re working on two or three blocks of buildings in Sharon,” Landino said. “We need somebody to take on a couple more blocks to keep it going because there’s only so much you can do as one group.”

A native of New York, Landino said he was “struggling and the foundations of my inner being were cracking a little bit” five years ago, when he was looking for a new place to live.

I was trying to figure out what was going to make me tick. I didn’t want to go through my life the way it had gone,” he said. As he realized he needed to do something different, he looked around Sharon and thought there were some “really cool things” in terms of the buildings.

Actionable Insights, a marketing firm, moved earlier this year into the upper level of the Applegate Building, and Landino said he has tenants for all the space in the lower level, among them a bakery, a restaurant, a barber shop and a boutique. The building should be completed and the tenants moved in by early summer 2018, he said.

After the Applegate project is finished, work will begin on the Armory, where he envisions community offices, event space and apartments. “The picture is starting to come together,” he said.

Landino said he is trying to help create a “culture and a quality of life” that he has seen in other cites. “Everybody talks about these great towns, but we want that here,” he said. “I don’t want to drive to go get it. I want it within walking distance.”

Last year’s Ambassador honoree, Mike Lisac, owner of Warehouse Sales in Sharon, whose own efforts to rehabilitate downtown Sharon properties began a decade ago, praised his fellow developer.

He just takes it to another level. I mean, there’s not that many people that make me feel lazy,” he said. “He’s always working.”

Landino “has a natural energy that carries him from opportunity to vision to realization, and his vision is transformative, all important characteristics for a man who never runs out of ideas and never slows down,” said Karen Winner Sed, CEO of Winner International and the Winner Companies.

Those who drive through Sharon and watch the physical transformations taking place at his properties “cannot help but sit back in awe at his creativity, at his ability to see opportunities and seize them, his generosity in investing in our town and our area and at his inspired life,” she added.

I would like to call for more action,” Landino said. “This year it’s me. Last year it was Mike [Lisac]. I’m challenging others.”

The chamber’s recognition of Buhl Park included a reflection on the original vision for the park by its founder, Frank H. Buhl, as portrayed by Frank Connelly, president of Sharon City Council.

Recent improvements at the park include a disc golf course, aqua climbing wall, reopening of the golf course’s driving range, and new events, including a half-marathon.

The major innovation, however,  was to open up community awareness, and to allow the community to steer its revitalization, said Jim Roskos, executive director.

If we have a whole bunch of things that nobody wants to come to, that’s a problem,” he said. “It’s essential to listen to their voice and do the things that they think are vital to the success of the park.”

Pictured: Tom Roskos of Buhl Park Corp., Sherris Moreira of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Jim Landino of JCL Development.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.