MVEDC Becomes Valley Partners; Launches Fund

LIBERTY TOWNSHIP, Ohio – What was the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. has become Valley Economic Development Partners.

The rebranding initiative and new name was announced July 9 at Valley Partners’ offices in Liberty Township.

“What we’ve really been thriving at is building those partnerships with all of our area banking institutions and economic development companies,” said Teresa Miller, executive director.

The Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. was founded in 1978 in the aftermath of the shutdown of Youngstown Sheet & Tube’s Campbell Works in 1977.

The organization was seeded with a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to create a revolving loan fund to give businesses a boost as the crisis unfolded.

Since then, Miller said the organization has provided more than $40 million in loans to diverse companies, which retained more than 2,000 jobs.

And, the organization has broadened its base from the Mahoning Valley to include Ashtabula, Portage, Geauga and Columbiana counties in Ohio and counties in western Pennsylvania, Miller said.

This factored in the decision to drop “Mahoning” from its name, she said.

 The rebranding comes at a time when the country is facing another economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced in Youngstown that the federal government would award Valley Partners a $5 million EDA grant drawn from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

Miller said the money would be used to create a new fund – the Valley Partners Revolving Loan Fund.  The organization works with area lenders, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state of Ohio and regional development organizations to lend money to businesses looking to expand and compete. 

The new revolving loan fund would make available loans up to $250,000 to those companies in Mahoning and Trumbull counties adversely impacted by the pandemic, Miller said. Interest rates would vary depending on collateral and how the loan is used.

The loans could be used to purchase buildings, equipment and working capital.

“This will help businesses keep their doors open, keep their employees on payroll, or bring those employees back on payroll,” Miller said.

Valley Partners’ Vice President Julie Michael Smith said this new funding augments the portfolio the organization had established as MVEDC.

In addition to assisting small business with capital, the organization has developed two industrial parks in North Jackson and Warren, and successfully administered two short-line railroads in the Mahoning Valley.

“There will be economic growth in our community again. I have no doubt that businesses that are struggling now will indeed thrive,” Smith said.

Pictured: Julie Michael Smith, vice president of the Valley Economic Development Partners Board of Directors, and Teresa Miller, executive director of Valley Partners, stand in front of a sign featuring the agency’s new name and logo.