Building Trades Forecast Plenty of Work in 2024

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Building and Construction Trades Council projects robust activity this year and for the foreseeable future, marked by the prospects of major building projects on the horizon.

“We had record numbers in 2022 and 2023,” says Martin Loney, Building Trades president and business agent for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 396.

He anticipates the first quarter of 2024 will be slow. That should pick up as more projects take hold. 

Loney points out that in December Kimberly-Clark purchased 560 acres of former steel mill property along Pine Avenue in Warren to explore the possibility of building a plant there.

Should the company approve the project, the project would keep the trades busy for several years.

Near-term projects include school construction at United Local School District and Crestview Local Schools, says Tony DiTommaso, secretary/treasurer of the Building Trades and financial secretary for Carpenters & Joiners Local 171.

Other projects include a student center at Youngstown State University and two specialty hospitals that Mercy Health is building in Liberty Township. Work is also set to begin on the $1.2 billion Trumbull Energy Center in Lordstown.

Equally important is the growing number of younger people joining the building trades, DiTommaso says.  “Man-hours were up in all the crafts last year,” he says. “Almost all the crafts saw growth in apprenticeships.”

Loney attributes this growth to outreach initiatives such as the All Trades Expo at the Canfield Fair.  “We had 5,200 kids pass through last September,” he says. It was the fourth year the Expo was held at the fairgrounds. 

He adds the pipefitters took on the largest apprentice class in its history last year with 25. All but three were under the age of 25. 

The carpenters are experiencing the same sort of demand, DiTommaso says. “I have 15 high school students in Austintown alone that want to get into the carpenters’ program.”

Central to the region’s growth is cooperation between development entities such as the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Western Reserve Port Authority and labor, DiTommaso says. “Everyone – the chamber, the port authority – is working with labor trying to bring this together.”