Biden Visiting East Palestine; Center of the World

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine. Check out for coverage from Business Journal senior reporter Deanne Johnson.

Ahead of the anniversary, it was announced Wednesday that President Joe Biden will visit the village this month. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during her press briefing Wednesday that the White House is working with local officials on the ground in East Palestine to make arrangements, although no date was specified. Jean-Pierre also pushed back against some in the White House press corps who called Biden’s decision to visit now a political stunt.

As we mentioned last week, the Growth Report 1 edition of The Business Journal kicked off our 40th year of publication. This week, George Nelson, deputy managing editor, took a look back at the Western Reserve Transit Authority, which was spotlighted in the first edition of The Business Journal in 1984.

Also from our Growth Report 1 edition, Dan O’Brien, managing editor, examined why a nondescript, unincorporated portion of Trumbull County that holds just a handful of businesses and residences has bragging rights to the moniker “Center of the World.”

On Monday, Denise Dick, special project manager, spoke with Youngstown State University President Bill Johnson. He told her that boosting enrollment at the university is a top priority. Meanwhile, Bruce Zoldan, founder of Phantom Fireworks, said Friday he has suspended his $5 million donation to YSU until 60 days after Johnson is no longer president and university trustees agree to a transparent presidential search.

Here’s a look at those stories and other top stories this week from

Press Secretary Defends Timing of Biden’s Visit to East Palestine

President Joe Biden waves as he walks on the South Lawn as he arrives at the White House on Sept. 4, 2023. (AP Photo | Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Reports circulated Wednesday morning that President Joe Biden plans to visit East Palestine in February.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Biden’s plans to visit the village during her press briefing Wednesday afternoon, but she didn’t provide a date for the visit. She said the White House is working with local officials on the ground in East Palestine to make arrangements.

“Something horrible happened to that community – a derailment happened in that community that caused some damage, real damage to the folks that live there,” Jean-Pierre said. “We’re taking this incredibly seriously. … He wants to make sure he’s there for this community.” READ

Business Journal Classic: WRTA Lifts Community for 40 Years

Pages from the August 1984 edition show a rendering of the WRTA trolley, photos of bus service in the 1940s, the skyline in 1984 and an ad for a word processor.

The inaugural edition of the Youngstown Business Journal spotlighted the Western Reserve Transit Authority. It was the first installment of the newspaper’s long-running Success Story series.

Back then as today, the transit system – which was experiencing a boost from its “What A Lift” advertising campaign – was preparing to launch a new downtown service and construct a bus terminal. Its executive director at the time, Jim Ferraro, declared that WRTA was “on [its] way” as the service continued its rebound from a temporary shutdown in 1981. READ

Journey to the Center of the World

Travelers along state Route 5 in Braceville Township often are surprised to find themselves in the Center of the World.

For decades, the two signs that bookend a 0.7-mile stretch of state Route 5 in Braceville Township have steadily commanded the attention of motorists.

Passersby on the busy thoroughfare often take note of the small, unassuming placards from the northeast- and southwest-bound lanes that hold just four words: “Center of the World.”  It’s enough to convince drivers to stop, turn around and take another look.

“There are people from all over who stop and take pictures with it,” says Jeff Tucker, a Braceville Township trustee. “It’s kind of a cool thing.” READ

Michigan-Based Manufacturer Acquires General Extrusions

The General Extrusions building is located at 4040 Lake Park Road in Boardman.

A longtime aluminum extrusion company that boasted three generations of local family ownership has been sold to an international metals manufacturer based in Michigan.

Sources confirm that International Manufacturing & Assembly, of Royal Oak, Michigan, acquired General Extrusions Inc. toward the end of last year. General Extrusions, founded in 1950 by Fred G. Schuler, is a long-standing aluminum extruder that has deep industrial roots in the Mahoning Valley. READ

Johnson Says He Will Focus on Boosting YSU Enrollment

YSU President Bill Johnson.

A week into his tenure as the 10th president of Youngstown State University, Bill Johnson lists boosting enrollment as a top priority. “Where do we go to find those students to get them to come to Youngstown State?” he said.

Former President Jim Tressel and his administration developed a strategic plan for YSU during the last couple of years he was in office, laying out goals for the university.

“There was a statement in that plan. … ‘We want Youngstown State to be an anchor university in northeast Ohio,’” Johnson said Monday. “I don’t want it to be an anchor university. I want it to be the anchor university.” READ

Other Top Stories

No More Zoldan Family Money for YSU – For Now
Lordstown Motors Proposes Settlement Plan with Shareholders
NASA Aerospace Engineer Will Touch Down in Boardman
Downtown Warren Stakeholders Form New Alliance
Bricker’s Cafeteria Gets New Family Ownership after 93 Years
Youngstown Board of Control OKs Trivium Grant Agreement
Steward Health Faces Lawsuits, Considers Selling 4 Hospitals
Boardman Manufacturing Plant Sold for $1.2M
‘Gemini,’ a Film Shot in Columbiana, to Premiere at Main Street Theater
‘Final Piece of the Funding Puzzle’ in Place for Thompson Building
Former Salem Visiting Nurses Building Sold for $799K
State Auditor Seeks Information About Eastern Gateway


Downtown Warren Alliance to Promote Development and Growth
Johnson Aims for Higher Enrollment at YSU
Conklin Dreams of One-Stop Shop for Immigrants
Giving the Valley a Lift for 40 Years
A Road Trip to the Center of the World in Braceville Township
Preview: Shoot for a Change Benefit Basketball Game
Warren Bakery’s Century-Old Secret

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