Western Reserve Port Authority Lifts Off

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Last year was transformational for the Western Reserve Port Authority with significant momentum gained in community revitalization, property management, airport development and greater staff capacity.

WRPA is a key partner in community and economic development in the Mahoning Valley and 2022 brought new projects and new leadership. Established to operate the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, the port authority expanded to become a dynamic, multifaceted agency dedicated to promoting growth and economic opportunity.

In February 2022, WRPA bade farewell to long-time executive director John Moliterno as he retired and welcomed Anthony Trevena in this role. Under Trevena’s leadership, the port authority has increased organizational capacity to drive growth through its economic development division and to expand facilities at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

“Anthony’s vision and experience are a tremendous asset to the Valley,” says Martin Loney, board president. “The port authority has thrived under his leadership and this is only the beginning of what we can accomplish.”

One of the port authority’s key initiatives is the redevelopment of vacant and blighted properties through financing, property acquisition, management and redevelopment. This includes the Warren megasite BDM Steel, one of the largest brownfield redevelopment sites in Ohio, according to Trevena. 

The city of Youngstown deployed American Rescue Plan Act funds though the port authority to continue revitalization efforts on the Mahoning Avenue corridor. Multiple properties are set to be renovated in 2023 and returned to productive use, Trevena says. In 2022, WRPA also acquired the former McGuffey Mall site in Youngstown, representing a significant redevelopment opportunity.

The port authority played a key role in the transformation of the Mahoning Valley Campus of Care, a 35-acre campus that serves special-needs individuals. After extensive renovations, the campus is nearing full occupancy, with $3.8 million in capital investment since 2019, 110 temporary construction jobs created, and 344 permanent on-site jobs created within the health and human services industry.

The port authority also manages the Mahoning County and Castlo Community Improvement corporations and the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors’ Association.

“These initiatives along with our economic development partners are helping to spur river redevelopment, downtown improvements and property reclamation,” Trevena says.   

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is planning its future by using a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant of $335,264 to create a development strategy. This effort will examine aviation industry trends to develop and diversify airport assets. The airport runway will also be resurfaced, thanks to former U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan securing a $5 million grant, Trevena says.

In addition, the airport continues to foster community engagement by hosting popular events such as the Wings and Wheels Fly-In and Car Show. These events bring together nearly 100 airplanes and 1,000 vintage cars.

Nick Chretien, regional development manager, and Krista Beniston, planning manager, joined the staff to assist in economic development, regional planning and project management. Both bring valuable experience in real estate development, property rehabilitation, acquisition, community planning, zoning, land use and transportation.

“The WRPA is grateful for the support and collaboration of our regional partners, including the Regional Chamber, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, the Youngstown Foundation, Valley Partners and other regional partners,” Trevena says. “ Economic development in the region requires solid partners and the WRPA’s successes are a testament to the collaborative efforts of everyone in the Valley.”