Economic Development

Camp Ravenna Missile Site? Decision Soon, Leaders Told

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In three weeks, an announcement regarding the proposed missile defense site being considered for Camp Ravenna is expected.

The news was confirmed Wednesday by members of a lobbying delegation led by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber after a meeting with U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, and Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio.

“They indicated there will be an announcement in three weeks on the missile defense base,” state Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-32 Bazetta, said. He could not say whether that meant the U.S. Department of Defense had decided to move forward with the project or if it had chosen a site.

“He said we have done everything we can to show the community’s support,” added John Moliterno, executive director of the Western Reserve Port Authority. Now the matter is in the hands of the officials who are going to make the final decision.

“He felt good about it, but at the same time he readily admitted all you could do is put your best foot forward and show the support of the Valley and the legislative delegation has for the project, and wait for a final decision,” he said.

Today, the delegation will meet with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to discuss potential funds to rehabilitate the Mahoning River. During Wednesday’s meetings, representatives put forward the case for the importance of dam removals and cleanup of the Mahoning River.

“We’re talking about the Valley 10, 20 and 30 years from now,” Moliterno said.

O’Brien and Moliterno are among 50 representatives of the Mahoning Valley business community and area elected officials participating in the Regional Chamber’s two-day Washington, D.C. Fly-In.

The goal of the trip is to lobby federal officials on behalf of local priorities including cleanup of the Mahoning River, support for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna and the missile defense project. Camp Ravenna, which is on the western border of Trumbull County, is among three sites under consideration if the Missile Defense Agency moves forward with the project.

Guy Coviello, the chamber’s vice president for government affairs, acknowledged Wednesday the Ballistic Missile Defense Review will be released in the next two to three weeks.

Construction of the missile defense installation would cost roughly $4.5 billion and would require an estimated 2,000 workers. When complete, the base would employ 800.

In addition to the meeting with Ryan and Brown, members of the delegation met with U.S. Reps. Jim Renacci and Dave Joyce, U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D, and Rob Portman, R, and Air Force Undersecretary Matthew P. Donovan.

“Everyone was very receptive,” Coviello said. Most of Wednesday’s focus was on military assets such as Camp Ravenna and YARS, though some discussion centered on America Makes and additive manufacturing.

“The day has been very productive. Everyone has been very impressed with the strong representation from the Mahoning Valley business and community leaders, legislators and decision makers,” said Jim Kinnick, executive director of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

In addition to pledging the Valley’s support for the Camp Ravenna Project and YARS, the delegation discussed the application for the proposed Strategic Medical, Academic, Residential, Recreational and Technology – or SMAR2T – corridor project, Kinnick said.

Eastgate is preparing an application on behalf of local partners for the city of Youngstown for funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development – or BUILD – Discretionary Grants program

“The meetings went very well,” said Dr. Lance Grahn, dean of Kent State University at Trumbull. “Everything has been very well organized and tightly focused. Discussions with our government officials have been informative and encouraging.”

In addition to spotlighting support for federal investment in the Mahoning Valley and in particular the projects identified, the delegation’s presence exhibits “the spirit of collaboration and cooperation” across the community for addressing important common objectives, Grahn said.

He also said it was important for him to participate in the Fly-In to show his support and that of the Kent Trumbull campus for development and growth in the Mahoning Valley.

“Kent State Trumbull’s participation in the Fly-In is one more demonstration of our commitment to our home community and to our region,” he said. “It reflects our deepening engagement in our wider community and our strategic, and even moral, commitment to contributing to a prosperous Trumbull County and prosperous Mahoning Valley, all in keeping with our core academic mission.”

Today’s meetings will take place at the White House. The schedule includes a meeting with Pruitt to request funds for Mahoning River cleanup and development, Kinnick said.

The group will meet with Ja’Ron Smith, special assistant to the president for domestic policy, to discuss the BUILD application that Eastgate and its partners are submitting next month.

Coviello said Wednesday he was impressed with how well the Valley was represented and how articulate community leaders were in advocating for local priorities.

“It was a very good day,” Moliterno said. In addition to meeting with the Mahoning Valley’s legislators in Washington on Wednesday, he said the Fly-In delegation met with other Ohio U.S. representatives. Today, he’s looking forward to meeting with members of the Trump administration, he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.